By a Newsnet reporter
The Labour group at Stirling Council has been condemned after a bizarre act of petty defiance left the council gridlocked with no budget and council workers facing the prospect of receiving no wages.
In scenes of farce and incredulity, the Labour councillors at the local authority decided to join forces with the Tory group in order to vote down budget amendments that they themselves had proposed.
SNP Leader of Stirling Council, Graham Houston described Labour’s bizarre move as a night of shame which defied belief.
Councillor Houston said: “I thought I had seen it all from the Labour Party, but last night their incredible antics, allying with the Tories to vote down proposals they themselves had made, simply defy belief.”
Opposition parties had proposed amendments to the SNP’s budget which were accepted by the SNP administration. However, when the vote arrived, instead of supporting their own amendments, the Labour group joined forces with the Tories to block the amended budget being passed.
Accusing Labour of abandoning “the last semblance of principle they had left” Councillor Houston added:
“Labour’s amendment to the SNP’s budget motion sought to change a fraction of the £214 million budget, and as a minority administration, the SNP was prepared to accept this minor amendment in order to deliver a balanced budget for the people of Stirling.
“Incredibly, however, Labour then scrambled to withdraw their amendment and, on being told it was too late, proceeded to vote it down rather than support the SNP.”
According to Mr Houston the budget contained more apprenticeships, a commitment to a living wage for council staff and a council tax freeze – which is Labour party policy in Scotland.
“This was a night of shame for Labour which will live long in the memory. The people of Stirling deserve much, much better than this unholy Labour-Tory alliance.” he said.
Labour hit back claiming that the SNP group had attempted to “steal” Labour’s budget.
Group leader Corrie McChord said: “The SNP attempt to avoid a vote on their budget by stealing Labour’s backfired when the SNP’s failed to gain the support across the council chamber,”
“The SNP have now accepted Labour’s budget is the best for Stirling Council residents but I have consulted my colleagues and we are prepared to consult all political groups to ensure a legal budget is passed within the statutory timescales.”
If a council does not set its budget then it cannot pay its workers after the end of the old budget period.
It also prevents any repairs from being carried out and affects the purchasing of services and materials. This can have a knock on effect on third parties such as charities that might provide these services as they cannot plan their budgets if they do not know what the council will be giving them.
The council has until March 11th to set a new budget.