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Council Leader Facing Calls To Quit
Council leader Jim Logue is facing calls to quit after being accused of breaching the councillors’ code of conduct for failing to declare he was a director of two private companies.
Wishaw councillor Sam Love and senior Labour councillors say the under-fire leader’s position is “untenable” and have urged him to resign as a councillor.
They insist that his failure to declare his interest as a director of private limited firms ECSA Ltd and No Limits Leisure (NLL) Ltd, both with council addressees as their base, is a clear breach of the councillors’ code of conduct.
Now they have called for an external investigation into the matter.
Councillor Logue hit back and described the allegations as a smear campaign against him and that he didn’t have to declare that he was a director of the companies as they were ‘subsidiaries’ of North Lanarkshire Leisure (NLL).
Both ESCA and No Limits Leisure were registered as private limited companies in The Register of Companies for Scotland.
Councillor Sam Love said the council leader’s explanation was not good enough and the information about the two private companies only came to light following the resignation of North Lanarkshire Leisure Board members earlier this year.
He said: “When councillor Logue became leader, he said the council should be transparent and accountable.
“But he has set up companies without the council’s knowledge.
“He is in breach of the councillors’ code of conduct.
“How can he set up a company and then dissolve it without the council knowing about it?
“The council’s chief executive knew nothing about these companies. He was director of leisure at the time these companies were set up.
“These private companies could have put the council’s charity status at risk. It could have lost the council millions of pounds by having to pay VAT, etc.
“There is doubt about these companies and it needs clarified.
“The council know nothing about these companies.
“Why do the council or North Lanarkshire Leisure hold no information about these companies?
“It stinks. Councillor Logue should resign as a councillor.”
A senior Labour source has backed calls for an external investigation.
“If there is nothing wrong then why not declare these companies,” he added. If it was a subsidiary, then he should have declared it to the council as it is in the councillors’ code of conduct. Their reports need to go to the council. The chief executive doesn’t know how much these companies paid rent to the council?
“There needs to be an independent inquiry into No Leisure Limits and ECSA Ltd to clear the air. Company records have to be kept for 10 years. Where are the records?”
The council leader was a director of ECSA Ltd from August 28, 2012, to April 5, 2016.
A Freedom of Information request by a member of the public revealed that neither North Lanarkshire Council or North Lanarkshire Leisure held any information about ESCA or No Limits Leisure.
And during an interview with a local paper last week Councillor Logue was quizzed about No Leisure Limits (NLL), councillor Logue declared he was no longer a director as the company had been dissolved.
The new political row comes months after Jim Logue - when he became council leader - launched an investigation “into serious allegations of corruption”.
The probe was launched after councillor Logue received an anonymous letter relating to the council’s procurement processes.
He said police had been informed and the council’s audit team would now carry out a detailed investigation.
It's understood that a group of Labour councillors were unhappy with Logue’s leadership style. They have complained to the council’s chief executive Paul Jukes and said he had breached the councillors’ code of conduct.
They are raising their concerns with Scottish Labour Secretary Brian Roy at Labour HQ in Glasgow.
A senior Labour source said, “If an external investigation finds anything inappropriate, then the council leader should resign and council officials should be prosecuted and the police called in. I would ask why these companies didn’t use the council’s lawyers or accountants?
“They were using their own.”
Mr Logue said his critics were bitter and refuted claims that he has breached the councillors’ code of conduct.
“These two companies were subsidiaries of North Lanarkshire Leisure,” he added
“I did declare that I am a director of North Lanarkshire Leisure. You don’t have to declare that you are a director of each subsidiary to the council.”
The council leader said that No Limits Leisure was set up for the sole purpose of the potential of providing leisure facilities to neighbouring local authorities.
He added: “Greenwich Trust provides services to other local authorities in England including the north of England. We wanted to use the name No Limits Leisure in other local authority areas rather than North Lanarkshire Leisure.
“There was never a penny put in or a penny spent.
“No Limits Leisure is now dissolved.”
But Councillor Logue’s opponents said that the council had earlier, in 2012, formed Community Interest Company (CIC) for a similar purpose as No Limits Leisure.
Councillor Sam Love said: “The company was already there so there was no need for No Limits Leisure.
“Why do that?”