Independent councillors resign from key panel

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Two independent councillors in Carrick have resigned from a key council scrutiny panel after South Ayrshire’s leader tried to remove one of them.

Councillors Brian Connolly and Alec Clark have resigned as chair and vice chair respectively of the Audit and Governance panel.

Their decision follows an attempt by South Ayrshire Council’s leader Bill McIntosh to offer the job of panel chair to new SNP leader Allan Dorans behind Connolly’s back.

Connolly was remarkably told of the plot in an e-mail by McIntosh only an hour before he was due to chair a meeting of the panel. McIntosh admitted Dorans turned him down but then expected Connolly to remain as chair. However, Connolly and Clark resigned at the end of the meeting on February 11.

Councillor Connolly said: “I’m just disappointed in the behaviour of a group I’ve worked with for a number of years to not show me the courtesy of discussing this with me.

“These are the people who are in the positions of higher paid posts and you’ve got to question their suitability.

“We’ve made progress since the Account Commission last year but I find it baffling that they would shoot themselves in the foot with a decision like this.

“I have sympathy with the senior officers in South Ayrshire who have put in the work to improve the council as this undermines their efforts.”

Girvan and South Carrick councillor Alec Clark added: “It is clear that money comes into decisions like this and not the ability of the councillors to do the job when someone like Councillor Connolly finds out via e-mail that he was going to be replaced.

“It reinforces my view that a lot of these decisions in council are taken in the smoke filled rooms and as independents we don’t need to be a part of that.

“We are going to remain on the panel because we want to continue to serve our communities by scrutinising the decisions the council take.

“I am sure this decision will be of concern to Audit Scotland who made it very clear that this is a panel that should be chaired by an independent member.

“This is a problem of the administration’s own making and one they’ll have to solve.”

A spokesperson for the leader said that Councillor McIntosh only resorted to e-mail after failing to contact Councillor Connolly by phone and that he has the ‘upmost respect’ for Mr Connolly.