The SNP has taken control of North Lanarkshire Council for the first time in its history after the largest party’s nominees for leader, provost and both deputes were elected unopposed at this afternoon’s “historic” meeting.
Jordan Linden and newly-elected group depute Tracy Carragher are now the leader and depute leader of Scotland’s fourth-largest council, after their party won 36 of its 77 seats in this month’s local government election.
Party colleagues Agnes Magowan and new councilor Anne Thomas are now North Lanarkshire’s provost and depute, and were officially invested with their chains of office at the new assembly’s first meeting at the Civic Center in Motherwell.
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The SNP’s election win and subsequent formation of a minority administration ends unbroken decades of Labor rule in the former stronghold area dating back to North Lanarkshire’s formation in 1996, and ousts the former administration led by Jim Logue.
His second-placed group did not propose any of their members for the office-bearer posts which determined control of the council, with the four SNP representatives being elected unchallenged.
They announced their decision on Wednesday, ending nearly two weeks of uncertainty following the poll which saw the SNP form the council’s largest grouping with Labor four seats behind; while the council’s combination of five Conservatives, one British Unionist, two independents and one Green had led to the potential prospect of a voting tie which could have led to the cutting of cards.
Councillor Linden paid tribute to his predecessor as his election was confirmed, and went on to say: “It’s an enormous privilege to lead the first SNP administration in North Lanarkshire, and I’m committed to leading it for all its people.
“We have an impressive manifesto and want to focus on education, sustainable economy, increasing engagement and take a far more inclusive approach to decision-making; we understand the challenges ahead for this council and the cost of living is at the forefront of people’s minds, and we’ll do everything we can to support local people.”
The 26-year-old, understood to be one of Scotland’s youngest council group leaders, added: “North Lanarkshire is my home – I was born, raised, went to school and worked here and now lead the council. We said change was on the ballot paper and my administration is ready to work with all and for all to deliver for people.”
Depute council leader Tracy Carragher, one of three women in the SNP administration’s top four posts, said on being elected: “I think this really is a historic new chapter for North Lanarkshire Council, and thank everyone who’s put their trust in me.
“The change in our team is very visible and shows we aren’t going to approach things in the same stereotypical way; the people of North Lanarkshire voted for change, and I’m honored to work with such a wonderful team to bring that about.”
Provost Agnes Magowan called it a “huge honour” to be elected as North Lanarkshire’s first citizen, saying: “This is a special moment and I hope to do the people of North Lanarkshire proud”; While deputing Anne Thomas agreed: “I’m very humbled and very excited, and will give 100 per cent.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.