Steve Cardownie: Councillor’s jobshare appointment shows she is a leading light

AS council leader Adam McVey embarks upon six weeks’ paternity leave this Friday, the arrangements that have been put in place to cover his absence break new ground as it certainly does not bear any resemblance to what happened when I was deputy leader.

Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 6:00 am
Cllr Ellie Bird is to share the leaders' responsibilities with deputy council leader Cammy Day. Picture: Neil Hanna

At that time the SNP was the junior partner in two coalitions, one with the Liberal Democrats and the other with the Labour Party. When the respective leaders of the council, whether it was Jenny Dawe or Andrew Burns, were off on leave, as deputy leader I assumed the position of leader in their absence – without any uplift in allowances, I may add.

The chief executive and all senior officials were aware of this as were my fellow councillors. I was not asked by the Liberal Democrat or Labour groups if I would share the position with one of their number as I suspect they knew that my answer would be connected with sex and travel.

So the news that SNP Councillor Ellie Bird is to share the leaders’ responsibilities with deputy council leader Cammy Day, and that he will not step into the role of leader as I did, certainly sets a precedent and must surely have been given his nod of approval or the plan would not have seen the light of day.

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The SNP group obviously has a lot of faith in Ellie as she has been elevated to this position despite only being elected to serve on the council two years ago with several senior councillors being overlooked such as Frank Ross, Cathy Fullerton and Alasdair Rankin – all of whom could have combined the role with their current senior council positions.

How this arrangement will work in practice is as yet unknown and it certainly leaves room for confusion, particularly if another crisis rears its ugly head, but time will tell.

Politics sets its own agenda, however, and Councillor Bird has risen from the ranks because a majority of her fellow SNP councillors believe that she is capable of fulfilling the duties of the role. She certainly does not lack confidence and it will be interesting to see how she deals with the responsibility of jointly running the capital city’s administration.

Committee move is wholly unbiased

MY father was a Roman Catholic and my mother is a Protestant. I was christened in the Church of Scotland as was my youngest son who went to a Roman Catholic Primary School and is now receiving an excellent education at a Roman Catholic High School.

I mention this in an effort to demonstrate that I have no particular religious axe to grind when it comes down to church representation on the City Council’s education, children and families committee.

A move is afoot to take away the voting rights of the three unelected religious representatives on that committee, with a motion to do so expected to be debated and voted on at this this Thursday’s full council meeting.

The Catholic Church in particular is not best pleased, claiming that there is “a secret plot” against it and that this is “in all probability just the first step in a process to remove faith education from schools in Scotland altogether”.

The representatives will still be members of the committee and will still have the right to speak at meetings, thereby being afforded the opportunity to try and persuade the elected members to take a particular stance on an issue.

Unelected members should not get a vote, it is simply a question of democracy.

No hidden agenda, no ulterior motive, just righting an undemocratic wrong!