Council Leader Joe Fagan will return on September 7
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At a full council meeting last Wednesday, the SNP group moved a vote of no confidence in councillor Joe Fagan after he was suspended in June.
Councillor Fagan was suspended from his duties for a period of two months from July 7 after being found in breach of the Standards Commission’s Councillors’ Code of Conduct.
The commission found that he broke the code of conduct by disclosing confidential information about potential leisure centre closures to the press on April 30, 2021, before he was the leader of the council.
He was then suspended for breaching the confidentiality code.
Although the SNP group expressed a vote of no confidence in the suspended council leader, the Labour group supported him, along with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Only 21 councillors voted in favour of the call, compared to the 34 who voted against and one who abstained.
SNP group leader Councillor John Ross (Hamilton South) proposed the motion, which was seconded by councillor Maureen Chalmers (Blantyre).
He said: “As one of the originators of the complaint made against Councillor Fagan to the Ethical Standards Commission, I feel vindicated but sad that the individual who is the leader of this council is someone who has been sanctioned by the commission.
“The commission’s decision was sobering. I think I’m correct to say that this was the first time a council leader in Scotland has been suspended for breaches of the code.”
Councillor Fagan previosuly said he disclosed the information in ‘good faith’ and that his conscience was clear.
He said: “I did what I believed to be right and that’s why I got into local government in the first place.
“My accusers said I leaked information and yet I openly disclosed it in good faith.
“I believe the Standards framework in Scotland should go after real wrongdoing in local government, it should not tie the hands of those working to expose it.”
Councillor Ross criticised councillor Fagan’s ‘brash and dismissive’ approach and questioned his role as council leader.
He added: “Is Councillor Fagan the right person to lead South Lanarkshire Council? Do members of the Labour group stand united behind him and what about the administration’s coalition partners, do you still have confidence in his leadership?
“The SNP group do not have confidence in Councillor Fagan, many of South Lanarkshire’s residents do not have confidence in him.”
He said Councillor Fagan’s return as leader was “untenable”. Councillor Kirsten Robb also condoned his actions.
However, depute council leader and depute leader of the Labour group Gerry Convery came to Councillor Fagan’s defence.
He said: “Just for the record, yes, the Labour group totally supports councillor Fagan, and he’ll be back in his role in a couple of weeks.”
Conservative councillor Richard Nelson shot down calls for the council leader to stand down and Liberal Democrat councillor Robert Brown declared his confidence in the council leader.
Councillor Fagan will return on September 7.