THE leader of Glasgow City Council has pledged to rebuild or repair every run-down primary school in the city if re-elected this May, in a bid to move on from the dramatic attempt by Labour rebels last week to topple his administration.
Gordon Matheson, who survived a knife-edge vote on the council’s budget plans, has also accused the six former Labour councillors who opposed him last week of seeking to “wreak revenge”, saying their rebellion was “exclusively” down to the fact that they have been dumped by the party as candidates.
The council leader claimed he had no thoughts of quitting last week, and also pledged to investigate allegations of bullying, after one of the Labour rebels claimed that a former colleague had sought to “intimidate” her into supporting the party.
The SNP last night sought to widen its attacks on Labour in the city, noting that four of the rebels who opposed Matheson last week are based within the constituency of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont.
But in an interview with Scotland on Sunday, Matheson insisted the rebellion had been due to internal grievances at the way the party had selected its candidates ahead of May’s election. Of the six rebels, he added: “They need to examine their consciences.”
With Glasgow now set for a fiercely fought contest ahead of May’s vote, Matheson will this week seek to put a lid on the storm as he unveil plans to rebuild dozens of the city’s schools.
He has pledged that, if re-elected, any primary school that needs work will be either rebuilt from scratch or refurbished from top to bottom. “All of the city’s secondary schools and Early Years centres have been dealt with,” he said. “But this is unfinished business because there are primary schools which, while they may be excellent schools, the condition of the building is not acceptable.”
He added: “The pledge is that every school which has the need will benefit from a newbuild or a deep refurbishment programme; we are not talking about a lick of paint.”
On the former Labour rebels who opposed the budget last week, Matheson said: “It was about trying to wreak revenge. It doesn’t stack up. There were people who chose to appeal [when they were de-selected]. Now somehow they don’t believe in what we are doing.”
He said the group were “disappointed because the answer to them was, ‘I’m sorry, you have not been re-selected to stand’ ”.
Matheson added: “The general public will take a very dim view of these shenanigans and they will see through the motivation for this.
“Every single one had been de-selected by the party and when faced with a choice on budget day of a Labour budget that was focused on jobs and education and public services, instead they chose to go into bed with the Tories.
“The motivation was simply about trying to wreak revenge. They need to look at their consciences.”