Midlothian leader told to resign or face no confidence vote
THE future of controversial Midlothian Council leader Lisa Beattie was in doubt today amid claims of a rebellion within her SNP group.
Sources said other SNP councillors had given Cllr Beattie an ultimatum to hand in a resignation letter by yesterday or face a vote of no confidence.
It is understood no letter has been received and the SNP group was due to hold an emergency meeting ahead of the scheduled full council meeting this afternoon.
Contacted by the Evening News, Cllr Beattie would only say: “There are lots of rumours flying around.”
The 59-year-old, who represents Midlothian East, has been council leader for just six weeks, following the local elections at which the SNP took control of Midlothian in alliance with an independent councillor.
But insiders said there had been discontent within the SNP group over the way Cllr Beattie had been behaving.
One source said: “She was continually telling them they had to ‘back me or sack me’ and if they would not agree to what she wanted she was going to pack it in.
“It came to a head last Tuesday when she said she was resigning. They went back to her on Thursday and said they were accepting her resignation. She asked if there was no middle ground, but they said she should put her resignation in writing by Monday or they would have a vote of no confidence in her as group leader.
“They have not heard anything from her at all. If they vote as a group to get rid of her she will no longer be SNP group leader, but she would still be leader of the council.”
It is understood Cllr Beattie would only cease to be council leader if she resigned or was voted out by a majority of councillors. The source also suggested Cllr Beattie had said at one stage that if she was removed as leader she would leave the SNP group, a move which could threaten the party’s slender hold on power.
The SNP and Labour each have eight seats on the council and there is one independent and one Green. After last month’s council elections, the SNP and the independent formed the new administration, helped into power by the vote of the Green. If Cllr Beattie were to become an independent, the administration’s continuation could be in her hands.
Midlothian West councillor Owen Thompson, who was group leader when the SNP was in opposition, is tipped as most likely to take over as group leader if Cllr Beattie goes.
Another source said: “Owen has been on the council for a long time. He is absolutely central to the discussions the group is having.”
Meanwhile, new Midlothian West SNP councillor Andrew Coventry is to step down from the council’s cabinet, after being unable to switch his present full-time job to part-time.
Renowned for ‘bad temper’
LISA Beattie, a doctor by profession, became the first female leader of Midlothian Council after the SNP came to power at last month’s elections, ending decades of Labour rule in the county.
She lives in a listed Georgian villa in Eskbank, with husband Colin, a former Midlothian councillor, high-flying banker and now SNP MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh.
They have been described as “a power couple”. Sources say there have been “several outbursts” between her and the SNP group during her short spell as leader. “Lisa is renowned for her bad temper,” said one insider.
Last week, the Evening News reported how the Beatties were locked in a row with neighbours about the HMO rental licence on a student flat they own in Marchmont.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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