Councillor’s committee appointment in limbo

CARNOUSTIE’S newest councillor, independent Brian Boyd, is receiving a baptism of fire as far as his appointment to an Angus Council committee is concerned.

He believes that his membership of an important committee is becoming a tool to score petty political points.

Mr Boyd told the Guide & Gazette: “I was excited when I was elected by members of the council to fill the seat on the infrastructure services committee left vacant by the early retirement of Councillor Ralph Palmer for health reasons.

“This committee oversees important areas such as roads, transport, planning and economic development. I did not want the sad departure of Councillor Palmer to reduce Carnoustie’s representation on this vital committee.

“This is why I am so very disappointed that the intervention of Councillor Helen Oswald means that my membership of this committee has been put into question and that the council will have to waste more time debating committee membership. It is farcical that this may even be decided by the cut of a deck of cards.

“Councillor Oswald complains that by filling the empty seat with an independent the Scottish National Party are disadvantaged.”

Mr Boyd went on: “I really cannot understand why another Carnoustie councillor wants her town to have less representation. Her fanatical obsessions and political ambitions with the SNP are clearly more important than our town.

“I would have hoped that she has better things to do with her time than fretting over small procedural matters and embarrassing hard working council officials. Councillor Oswald should devote more of her time to doing the job she is paid to do, namely ensuring Carnoustie gets a fair deal.

“She should be working with me, not against me! I have already asked to meet with her on several occasions so we can present a united front for Carnoustie, I still await a positive response.”

Councillor Boyd concluded: “I believe my experience as a businessman and work with various community groups means I am in a real position to add value to this committee.

“The strength of a fully independent councillor is that my sole agenda is the best interests of our town. I promise that whatever the outcome, Councillor Oswald’s misguided and petty intervention will not thwart my efforts to do the best for Carnoustie.”

However, Councillor Helen Oswald has refuted many of the claims made by the burgh’s newest councillor.

She told the Guide & Gazette: “I will put Councillor Boyd’s outburst down to ignorance of the council’s standing orders and his exaggerations about the number of times he has asked to meet with me down to his not having read the councillor’s code of conduct.

“He did e-mail me about meeting him and I responded the next day, suggesting a date. For the record, I also invited him to meet with myself and the SNP group to discuss our budget and in particular, the £1 million for Carnoustie’s business park, but he failed to respond.”

Councillor Oswald, leader of the council’s SNP group, went on: “The council’s standing orders state that it will give effect to the principles regarding political balance set out in the l989 Act.

“These principles would be met by a breakdown of eight Angus Alliance, six SNP and one independent. That’s how the sums work out.

“Other than civic licensing and development standards committees, there is no geographical prescription on committee membership. And in fact, there are no Carnoustie representatives on either education or social work and health and there is a vacancy on each of these committees. Since the SNP has its full allocation, perhaps Councillor Boyd could look to fill these vacancies.

“As far as the decision-making process is concerned, again the council’s standing orders are clear. In the event of a tie for an appointment (which there was, at 14-14), then the appointment has to be determined by lot. This means the cutting of a deck of cards. The ruling that the Provost had the casting vote was wrong and this means that the process was flawed and has to be re-run for it to become valid.”

She continued: “Councillor Boyd may feel this is farcical and that procedural matters are not important, but council business must be conducted in a transparent and open manner and in accordance with the standing orders. These are there for the protection of members as well as for the clarity they bring to council procedures.

“We don’t know what the outcome of the re-run ballot will be. But whatever it is, it will now be in accordance with the council’s standing orders, in full view of the public and press. And not decided, as was suggested, at some behind the scenes, hastily convened meeting.

“On the matter of Councillor Boyd’s sole agenda being the best interests of our town, I cannot reconcile this with his abstention from a vote which could have seen £1 million allocated to Carnoustie’s business park.

“How is this in the best interests of our town?”

Councillor Oswald concluded: “Councillor Boyd should consider the contents of the councillor’s code of conduct, particularly the section on ‘respect’ before he issues his next press release. I have no intentions of becoming party to a weekly slanging match in the press.”