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Row Erupts Within North Lanarkshire
Tommy Morgan has been stripped of his post as convener of the audit and governance committee after a closely-contested 16-14 vote among the party’s councillors.
Senior party sources insist that the action was taken as a disciplinary measure, after complaints were lodged regarding verbally abusive behaviour by the Airdrie North representative towards other councillors during heated debate at a group meeting.
However, counter-suggestions have been made that the highly unusual proceedings, removing him from his post leading the scrutiny body, were a response to his questioning of the council’s contract with maintenance provider Mears.
There are also complaints that correct party disciplinary procedures were not followed.
Labour sources strongly deny both points – but Councillor Morgan has now taken his case to a lawyer. His complaint about the handling of the matter has been sent to the party’s London headquarters and could yet escalate even further.
Councillor Morgan said: “I am unable to make any comment at present on the nature of my situation, due to the fact that the case is in the hands of my solicitor.
“At this stressful time, I appreciate the support received from family and friends.”
He had recently written to council chief executive Gavin Whitefield querying Mears contract issues, following a private report to the policy and resources committee.
North Lanarkshire Labour group leader Jim McCabe entirely dismissed any notion of a link between Councillor Morgan’s removal and his questions about the service.
He said: “I’d like to make it abundantly clear that I had absolutely no complaint regarding Tommy Morgan’s work, ability or the way he handled his position as chair of audit and governance.”
The party row ignited after Councillor Morgan declined to attend scheduled disciplinary meetings with senior Labour representatives about the original complaints stemming from the meeting, after questioning their nature and the procedure involved.
It led to the proceedings being escalated to a group meeting, where members were asked to vote on the motion to remove him from his convenership position – passed by just two votes, including those of the four complainants.
Councillor Morgan had earned praise for the diligent conduct of his audit role. The council’s overall financial procedures have also passed stringent annual external checks.
A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said: “We have had negotiations with our service providers following a full report to the policy and resources committee in September 2014, with an update to the December committee.
“This will be subject to a further full report to the committee for a final decision which will continue to secure best value for the council.”