Jan 11 2012 by Gregor White, Stirling Observer Wednesday
CLACKMANNANSHIRE has a new SNP administration after a former Labour member sided with Nationalists in a vote of confidence.
Clackmannanshire West member Eddie Carrick joined the council’s seven SNP councillors and fellow independent councillor Craig Holden in the vote on Friday, triggered it was said, by concerns over the Labour group’s management of finances and continued criticism of care services for children.
Mr Carrick quit the Labour Party in December after being rejected as a party candidate for this year’s council elections, bringing to an end almost 40 years involvement with the party.
Sitting as an independent since then he retains his former role as portfolio holder for sustainability in the new administration while Mr Holden becomes portfolio holder for partnership.
Councillor Tina Murphy has become the Wee County’s first female provost and Councillor Gary Womersley is the new leader of the council.
He said: “I am delighted that a lot of hard work by many people has resulted in the appointment of an SNP administration at Clackmannanshire Council.
“I have long maintained that this council needs good financial stewardship, robust governance and, above all, a strong sense of ambition and long-term strategy for Clackmannanshire.
“Yes, there will be challenges ahead but I believe that this new SNP administration represents the best option to safeguard and further the interests of all residents of Clackmannanshire.
“I look forward to working with all across the county to genuinely move the council forward.”
And he added: “This is a good step forward for Clackmannanshire and a new start for Clackmannanshire council.
“We have been let down by Labour over the last four years.
“Over the next few months people in Clackmannanshire will see the kind of positive and constructive administration the SNP can bring.”
The new provost called the change “momentous” and added: “We were all charged with working for, and on behalf of, our communities when elected, and our commitment to those communities remains unchanged.”
The SNP talked up the coup as a major boost for the party ahead of this year’s local authority elections as it takes the number of Scottish councils they lead to 11.
Local SNP MSP Keith Brown offered his congratulations to the new group saying: “This is a new start for a new year and I look forward to working with the new SNP administration to move Clackmannanshire forward.”
Labour MP Gordon Banks, however, called the move “blatant opportunism” on the part of the SNP.
And Mr Carrick said his decision to side with his former opponents was “a matter of principle” that had nothing to do with the earlier selection decision.
Other changes to the Clackmannanshire administration include Mark English taking responsibility for Inclusion and Irene Hamilton becoming portfolio holder for Regeneration.
Councillor Walter McAdam has been appointed as the council's representative on Forth Valley Health Board though representatives on a number of other partner organisations - including the police and fire boards - currently remain unchanged.
Councillor Donald Balsillie was appointed Convenor of the Petitions Committee.