Council mag sparks battle

THE contents of a Glasgow city council magazine has become an unlikely battleground for the Glasgow Southside candidates.

The publicly-funded monthly featured a pre-election attack by council leader Gordon Matheson on the Scottish government’s budget which SNP candidate Nicola Sturgeon has described as “party political propaganda”.

In the magazine, Mr Matheson stated: “This year John Swinney offered councils a 2.6 per cent funding cut, but threatened to withhold an extra £50 million unless we agreed to demands designed to win his party votes in May.

“Even though we signed up to his deal Mr Swinney broke his promise and cut our budget by 3.6 per cent anyway, forcing us to find millions in additional savings this year”.

The £42,000 publication has now been withdrawn.

A GCC spokesman said: “Without accepting we have done anything wrong, we understand the SNP is uncomfortable with this. We therefore asked the Royal Mail to suspend delivery and agreed not to put the magazine online”.

Councillor David Meikle — a Conservative candidate in the election — believes the administration has “no shame”.

“I’m not surprised that the Labour-run council has used the Glasgow Magazine for political propaganda — it always does.

“It complains about the cuts while on the other hand abuses tax-payers money by producing this magazine in the first place and uses it to make cheap political attacks at the time of the election.

“I question why council officers allowed it to be printed when it contravenes local government law and everyone is surely aware there is an election in a few weeks time”.

However, Labour candidate Stephen Curran has leapt to the defence of Mr Matheson and his comments.

He told The Extra: “The council leader is simply stating facts, not opinions so I do not understand the criticism.

“The Scottish National Party are obviously very sensitive to the truth”.

The article prompted a complaint from SNP group leader James Dornan and the party’s lawyers for “blatant political abuse of a council publication”.

The legal letter accused the comments of breaching section two of the Local Government Act 1986.

This incident follows a previous clash between SNP and Labour when councillor Graeme Hendry complained to the Public Standards commissioner about the Glasgow city council Labour group using council facilities to help their election campaign.

Although the complaint was not upheld, the commissioner described the council as, “at best, ill-advised to provide facilities to councillors to enable them to collect information on constituents voting intentions”.