MP resigns as a North Lanarkshire councillor triggering by-election

A North Lanarkshire councillor has resigned to focus on his career as a member of the Westminster Parliament.

Labour representative Hugh Gaffney won in both the 2017 local and UK elections, being named as a Thorniewood councillor as well as Member of Parliament for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill.

At the time he decided to serve in both posts as he wished to save voters from yet another election.

During this point he had stated: “I told council colleagues I would do both jobs. I fought long and hard to be a councillor so I’ll do that for a year and then review it. I don’t want to put the people of the area through another election just yet anyway.”

In his resignation letter to North Lanarkshire Council chief executive Des Murray, Mr Gaffney said: “I have been privileged to serve for the past two years as a councillor for Thorniewood, representing the community which I was born and bred in.

“I am proud of what North Lanarkshire Council has achieved in that time despite the £260m+ cuts which have been made to its budget by the Scottish Government.

“As someone who is passionate about tackling inequality and poverty, I have been particularly proud of our Club 365 programme, ensuring that the poorest children have access to proper, nutritious meals throughout the year.

“It has also been hugely fulfilling for me over the past two years to be able to assist local residents on a range of issues. I have also enjoyed meeting the numerous charities, voluntary organisations and community groups who do such vital work in Thorniewood, work which I will continue to support in the future.”

The date of the by-election is yet to be set but the SNP has confirmed its hopes of electing a second councillor in the ward serving alongside Steven Bonnar.

Councillor Bonnar said: “I am surprised it took Hugh two years to make this decision, but look forward to the by-election and seeing the people of Thorniewood receive full representation at committee and council level.”

He added that queries over whether Mr Gaffney had indeed lived up to his pledge of donating his £17,000 annual payment from the council to the community of Thorniewood had “never been given a satisfactory answer”.

“That money has been set aside by the council to ensure the people are represented by a full time councillor and the SNP will most definitely be fielding a candidate in the by-election,” he said.

Neil McGrory - Local Democracy Reporting Service