Vote re-run over sports pitches move to NLL

SNP won rare victory at Motherwell Civic Centre.
SNP won rare victory at Motherwell Civic Centre.

A vote on taking the maintenance of school sports pitches out of council control is to be re-run after a ‘shambolic’ meeting.

Opposition SNP councillors thought they’d won a rare victory in the chamber at Motherwell Civic Centre.

North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim McCabe then demanded a replay which resulted in his ruling Labour group winning as they usually do.

Now, however, Councillor McCabe admits the original vote should have stood and there will be another debate at the next full council meeting.

The bizarre sequence of events came as the learning and leisure services committee heard of a move to hand over maintenance of synthetic pitches to the arms length organisation NL Leisure.

Councillors with an interest in NLL and another body, Culture NL, were not allowed a vote. An SNP amendment asking for the matter to be continued was supported by a Green councillor and Labour lost the vote 10-9.

However, the SNP claim that Labour councillors returned to the meeting and added their names to a roll-call vote which was 13-11 in Labour’s favour.

SNP group leader David Stocks said: “The vote was re-run twice until Labour won. Declarations of interest and specific guidance were ruthlessly overturned in the Labour interest.

“Councillor McCabe was a totally incompetent chairman and presided over a shambles of his own making.”

Councillor McCabe blamed ‘total confusion’ as councillors returned to the meeting for the unsatisfactory outcome.

He said: “There was no attempt to orchestrate things. This will be put right at the full council when the vote will be taken again.”

Councillor McCabe pointed out the SNP vote at the committee would have been overturned by sheer Labour numbers at the full council anyway.

The SNP is worried about NL Leisure taking over maintenance of synthetic sports pitches.

Group depty leader Tom Johnston said: “The council’s own report lists other options which offer a real testing of the market for maintenance contracts. Clarity is required on the possible effect of various contracts on pitch letting rates.

“There is also a complete failure to report on the future of so many disused blaes pitches which are part of school grounds and have lain disused for decades. It is a disgrace and a statement is required.”

Councillor Julie McAnulty added: “NLL is to be offered maintenance of the money-spinning synthetic pitches while the less attractive, more challenging sites are left for the council.”