Tempers fray at council meeting

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A BITTER squabble broke out among Langholm community councillors in an 'unedifying spectacle' at their meeting on Monday.

The row was over the possible co-option of former ward councillor Denis Male who has put forward his name to join.

The co-option was due to have been voted on at the meeting but Margaret Sanderson, chairwoman, said it could not proceed.

She said the council should have 11 Langholm representatives and two each from Ewes and Westerkirk. They already had 11 for Langholm and two for Westerkirk but none for Ewes and because Denis lived in Langholm, they could not accept his nomination.

She had spoken to two Ewes residents who were interested in joining. If they decided to go ahead, they would put forward their names for the November meeting.

The other problem was that they had not followed proper procedure. The council should have publicised Denis's name and address and the name and address of his proposer seven calendar days before the co-option.

Aileen Armstrong, who joined the council two years ago, said she was the Ewes representative.

She said: "When you (Margaret) spoke to me, it was to represent Ewes."

Mrs Sanderson said it was a mistake. She thought Aileen lived in Ewes, not Langholm, and the returning officer should have picked that up.

Betty Harkness said that Mrs Sanderson should have known they needed two Ewes councillors two years ago.

She said: "I think this has come to light because I proposed Denis and you don't want him. That's exactly what I think. It was never brought up before I proposed Denis about Ewes and Westerkirk.

"It doesn't say anything in the establishment of community councils document about where a co-opted councillor lives."

Mrs Sanderson said a person had to live in the parish to represent it. Grace Brown said it went on where a person voted, not necessarily where they lived.

Stuart Clement believed they should seek official confirmation from the council but added: "I have to agree with Betty. I think it's because of who the potential community councillor is.

"This has suddenly been pulled out of the hat. Something doesn't seem quite fair there."

Billy Young said the whole discussion put the council "in a bad light".

He added: "I think the council has the right to co-opt anyhone at any time."

Mrs Armstrong said: "I've no axes to grind but the person, whose name has been proposed, will be an asset to this group because of his previous experience and I think it should be allowed to proceed."

Mrs Harkness raised the issue of whether ward councillor Ronnie Tait could remain a community councillor after his election. She had been told that he could.

Mr Tait shouted "For God's sake, woman" at her and Mrs Harkness demanded an apology for the way he spoke to her and he did apologise.

Mrs Sanderson put her foot down, saying: "This must stop right now. There has been enough nastiness at this council over the past couple of months."

Some of the councillors said they could not understand why Denis's letter to join was not in the public domain when it was published in September's minutes and was on October's agenda.

The co-option will be discussed at the November meeting.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 11:56AM
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