Midlothian councillors revolt over two minute warning

A council meeting descended into farce when politicians successfully revolted against the Provost.

Preparing to debate the SNP administration’s budget plans, elected members erupted with fury when Councillor Joe Wallace (SNP) placed a two-minute time limit on each speaker.

The opposition Labour group threatened to walk out, and even ruling-group councillors were left pleading for more debating time. Ahead of an item on contentious plans to increase charges for adult social care services, Councillor Cath Johnstone (SNP) asked: “This is a very important issue and I will need additional time.”

Echoing her call, deputy leader of the council Owen Thompson (SNP) urged: “Given that this is such an extensive item and there are a lot of points to be made, we need time to allow all members to have sufficient input to make a decision.”

With Councillor Wallace insisting that “all members will stick to the two minutes,” Councillor Derek Milligan (Lab) called on the chief executive and monitoring officer to wade in and “get it stopped”.

He fumed: “The Provost is overriding his powers, I certainly will not be sticking to two minutes.

“There is no chance that I can speak on these important papers in that length of time.

“If we are only being given two minutes then the Labour Group will withdraw because we cannot possibly debate like this.” After a 10-minute recess, the time constraint was lifted and councillors were able to debate the budget at length.

They had earlier clashed over proposals to maintain a six-weekly meetings cycle.