All five SNP members of the Midlothian Licensing Board failed to turn up to its meeting on Tuesday, bringing proceedings to a temporary halt.
Bemused Labour councillors, applicants, senior police officers and legal representatives had to wait for more than an hour until SNP councillor Derek Rosie could be contacted and attend in order to achieve a quorum – the minimum number required in order for proceedings to be valid – and allow the meeting to begin.
Speaking afterwards, Labour board member Russell Imrie said: “This is typical of the attitude of SNP members over the last five years who have been much more interested in national and constitutional issues, or being out campaigning for their own agenda, than carrying out the business of running the council.”
Fellow Labour board member Margot Russell added: “It is a disgraceful way to treat the hard-working pub, restaurant and licence premises workers and I shudder to think how much the delay will have cost those attending. Legal representation does not come cheap and I’m sure the Police Inspectors had better things to do with their time.”
A spokesman for Midlothian Council said: “There was some confusion regarding the scheduling of the Licensing Committee meeting. This was due to an administrative error and is being investigated by the council. Accordingly after a short delay the meeting was convened.”
A spokesman for Midlothian SNP said: “Council officials have already acknowledged there was an administrative error which led to the SNP council group receiving no notification of this meeting whilst the Labour group did, we have asked officials to immediately investigate this.
“The Midlothian Labour party’s exaggerated comments about an administrative error show that they have nothing to offer voters in Midlothian except negative spin and non-stories.”