Former Edinburgh Lord Provost intervenes in council committee meeting as he watches online

Former Lord Provost Frank Ross intervened remotely in a meeting of the council's finance committee to make sure proper procedures were followed as he watched online.

By Ian Swanson
Friday, 17th June 2022, 2:29 pm
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 2:30 pm

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The former First Citizen messaged SNP finance spokesman Marco Biagi to voice concerns that motions were being agreed without being properly moved and seconded.

Without revealing Cllr Ross’s identity, Cllr Biagi said: “A civic-minded viewer of the webcast has communicated a concern about standing orders and how we’re working.”

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He quoted the standing order requiring all motions to be seconded and suggested that to avoid challenge the committee should follow that procedure.

After some conferring, convener Mandy Watt ran through the decisions already taken, getting each one formally proposed and seconded.

She said afterwards that although at full council motions were always formally proposed and seconded, in committees a motion would be proposed and if all members agreed it was taken as passed. But she said it only took a few seconds to have it formally seconded. "I'm always happy to try to meet the expectations of concerned citizens as far as I can."

Cllr Biagi said the rules appeared to be a bit ambiguous. He said they were temporary standing orders, introduced for virtual meetings during the pandemic, which were due for review in any case.

Frank Ross was watching the committee and wanted to keep them right.

But he said it seemed reasonable to have a clearly identified mover and seconder for a motion. “Finance committee sometimes awards contracts and there is a ten-day statutory standstill period when any of the losing tenderers can challenge, so it’s important we are procedurally robust and above challenge.”

A council spokesperson said: “If a committee is simply moving the recommendations of a report, there are no amendments and there is full agreement by the committee on the course of action, then there is no requirement to formally move this position.”

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