Angus Council: Criticism piles high as second troll unmasked

Opposition councillors in Angus Council have launched a blazing attack on the administration over its councillors’ conduct after it emerged a second Conservative was operating malicious social media accounts.

Days after Conservative councillor and education convener Derek Wann was unmasked as a vitriolic Twitter troll, The Courier newspaper reports that stablemate Braden Davy was behind a Facebook group that encouraged unaware locals to support him in May’s Scottish Parliament elections.

On the Angus Against the SNP Facebook page, which did not identify him as its administrator, Forfar councillor Davy implored Angus residents to vote for him, writing: “Tactically vote with your constituency ballot for Braden Davy to stop the SNP.”

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Braden Davy. Picture: Contributed

He told the Courier: “I was involved in creating a cross-party platform to scrutinise the SNP in Angus. I’ve referred all relevant details to the party.”

The administration has formed a barrier of protection around beleaguered leader David Fairweather after a series of scandals in a matter of weeks.

Other administration councillors have ignored multiple requests for comment on Wann’s conduct, and a promised statement on the Tory’s political future failed to materialise on Wednesday.

Ben Lawrie, a former administration councillor who quit the group in March citing its toxic culture, said the ruling group was “beyond repair”.

He has proposed forming a “unity cabinet” made up of SNP, Lib Dem and non-administration Independents to steer Angus through the end of the pandemic were Wann and Davy to step aside.

“The problem this administration has is that it’s forced to tolerate shady behaviour as its majority gets gripped ever tighter,” the Liberal Democrat said.

“The only reason they’ve held on so long is because there’s no sizeable enough group to challenge them. The SNP, in its best case scenario, would still be two votes short from taking over.

“To me, the only viable way forward is a unity cabinet. We’re in a time of national crisis: the public need us to refocus and put this nonsense aside.

“A council of county unity would put the best people in leadership regardless of party and would comfortably have enough numbers to not rely on shadier characters to keep the administration afloat.”

Angus SNP MP Dave Doogan said the “wheels are well and truly off” the administration while Beth Whiteside, SNP group leader on Angus Council said the administration owed the electorate an explanation.

“Sadly, I am not surprised by Cllr Speed’s account of the administration and the manner in which they operate.

“I would imagine, however, that many members of the public will feel extremely let down by the behaviour of some of their elected members.

“The administration have yet to issue a statement to address the concerns that have been raised, but I trust they have given due consideration of the damaging impact that this has had on the reputation of Angus Council.

“I believe that the public will expect nothing less than the resignation of the Convener of the Children and Learning Committee and may well be giving serious consideration as to how they plan to vote in next year’s council elections.”

Fairweather was blasted for expressing his “delight” at replacing Cllr Lois Speed with Cllr Richard Moore on the administration last month. Speed was one of four women sexually harassed by Moore in a single day in 2017, for which he served a three-month suspension.

And the leader’s response to Wann’s social media conduct, in which he said a “conversation” had taken place but declined to go into detail, has also been lambasted by opposition members.

In an interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service published this week, Speed described a toxic culture within the administration where councillors who failed to toe the party line would receive “bollockings” from senior members.

Cllr Wann has refused multiple requests for comment – most recently telling a Local Democracy Reporter outside his house in Arbroath: “There’s no-one home.”

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