SEVERAL Moffat community councillors quit their roles this week after members were embroiled in a dispute over the co-option of a new representative.
The business of welcoming two new councillors was listed near the top of the agenda for Moffat and District Community Council’s (MDCC) Zoom meeting on Tuesday night.
Bryony Ladd-Smith was voted-in unanimously, however when it came to the co-option of Robbie Porteous, chairman Leys Geddes said they were “unable to proceed”, adding the group “took the view in a meeting we had earlier on today that we should choose to delay things”.
Mr Geddes explained that the earlier meeting sought to address a pre-emptive decision taken by some on the council to vote against the co-option of Mr Porteous, despite a drive by the group to increase and diversify its membership in recent months.
Furthermore, those who were in favour of welcoming Mr Porteous to the cohort threatened to step down if his bid was rejected.
Community councillor Alistair McNay questioned the move to not hold the vote, arguing it should go ahead as planned.
He said: “We finally get two people who are willing to come on and we can’t get one of them on. It’s very poor on some of the new members.”
Mr McNay subsequently said he would tender his resignation, whilst treasurer David Booth left the meeting.
Members of the public present on Tuesday night also hit back at the decision not to conduct the vote, with one interjecting: “I’m a member of the community who wants to see things done correctly, so if something is not voted for by the majority of the community council then that should be minuted appropriately, and then at a later date if the vote changed, so be it. It’s quite a difficult thing for the community council to defend for the public.”
Vice chair Fiona Murray responded: “I think we can defend it, but we were attempting to keep the community council together, it’s been really complicated.”
But local resident Ashleigh Douglas pointed out that members “should carry out the vote regardless of how you think it may go or how you think members may vote”.
Backtracking on their earlier decision to delay, members then moved forward with a vote but failed to reach the two-thirds majority required, resulting in Mr Porteous’ co-option being rejected.
Further dispute fuelled by a discussion on the planned public consultation of Scoop Hill windfarm led community councillors Terence Leigh, Peter Watt and Carole Williams to step down.
Speaking yesterday, group treasurer David Booth said he was “ashamed and saddened” by Tuesday night’s events.
He added: “The community council is supposed to be inclusive and from as diverse of the community as possible, this is what it says in the constitution. Despite the best effort of the chair to find a compromise, unfortunately it came to pass and the meeting descended into chaos, what happened was no surprise.
“But in every disaster there is an opportunity, so hopefully more interested people shall step forward so we can do what it says on the tin and truly represent the community.”