The Lochgelly Community Council had a very turbulent meeting on the 10th October, which caused one member of the public to walk out after raising serious concerns over the conduct of the chairperson Ernest McPherson and some other Community Councillors, and a surprise resignation from Community Councillor Eileen McKenna.
A very heated debate started at the Community Council regarding the filling of a vacancy since Linda Erskine had to step down from her role as a Community Councillor, now that she has been elected as a local councillor for the Lochgelly & Cardenden political ward.
This vacancy became available at last months meeting (September) and two members of the public showed interest in filling the vacancy.
When a vacancy becomes available, the Community Council has to notify Fife Council that a position is available. Fife Council will then provide nomination forms and the Community Council has to make the public aware of the vacancy and provide any interested members of public with a nomination form.
The nomination forms are sent to Fife Council, who check the validity of the forms, and if there is more than 1 valid nomination form, then a public election is held to fill the Community Council vacancy. This process usually takes around 3 months.
At the September meeting, chairperson McPherson had nominated a member of public who had not been in attendance at any of the previous Community Council meetings. At the same time, one of our volunteers was also nominated by other Community Councillors.
Issues were raised regarding the validity of nominations at the September meeting and the chairperson was notified of the election procedures. The chair then delayed the nominations to consult with Fife Council.
Fast forward to the October meeting and the Chair claimed that the vacancy can be filled by a decision by the Community Council and that an election is not required. Our volunteer was nominated, and a third member of the public was also nominated. This caused the meeting to be interrupted by a member of public, raising serious concerns.
The Community Council was accused of less than transparent practices, with the chair being accused of ‘rigging’ votes and ‘cronyism’. The member of public making the accusation, highlighted that there was some really good Community Councillors serving on the Community Council, but due to other Community Councillors appearing to serve their own interests and the interests of the chairperson, over the community, nothing was getting done for Lochgelly through the Community Council.
At this point, the 3rd member of public that has shown interest in becoming a Community Councillor decided to step down, as they did not wish to become a Community Councillor in a manner that may cause some controversy and stated that if they were to become a Community Councillor, they would want the position in a fair and democratic manner.
The Chair then decided to nominate the member of public who attended last months meeting (September), but was not in person at the October meeting. At which point Community Councillor Eileen McKenna interrupted the meeting and passed a letter to the Chair and asked for it’s contents to be shared with everyone in attendance.
We have been requested to publish the letter in full;
After the letter was read, the Community Council accepted the resignation. The Chair then proceeded to try and continue the co-option of a member of public who wasn’t in attendance, until Community Councillor Stevie Murray checked the regulations online and quoted them to the Chair.
The filling of the vacancy has been put on hold until a proper consultation with Fife Council is conducted to ensure the filling of the two vacancies is held transparently and in an accountable manner.