Councillor Mark McMillan, the current leader of the Labour administration of Renfrewshire Council, has been reported to the Standards Commission for a clear breach of the councillors code of conduct.
Councillor McMillan not only failed to declare an interest in a debate on his employer receiving a council contract, but he actually took part in the debate – declaring that, “I am happy to support this project”.
The SNP group in Renfrewshire Council were concerned about a project which came before the Economy and Jobs policy board. This project involved using the Kibble social enterprise to clean up areas of Paisley High Street. However there was no information on what they were meant to do, what training was involved for trainees taking part in the project and even how much trainees were to be paid. This is in contrast to the Labour leader’s oft stated remarks that he would use procurement rules to ensure everyone working for companies employed by the council would receive the living wage.
When questioned about a number of issues relating to this project, the meeting became heated and Cllr Mark McMillan made his comment, “I am happy to support this project”. At no stage before, during or after the debate did Councillor McMillan declare an interest in the issue despite him being employed as a public policy advisor for the Kibble – the same organisation he was happy to hand over £25,000 to for cleaning up the High Street. The convener then closed the meeting, ruling out an SNP amendment as incompetent – even though there had been about twenty minutes discussion on the issues it raised.
At the following full council meeting on 25th April the SNP group put forward a motion on the issue, hoping to get some of the answers that the administration refused to give at the policy board. However, the Labour Provost struck off the motion and hurriedly closed down the meeting. However, at the beginning of this meeting Cllr McMillan did declare a non-financial interest in the issue. It seems he realised that he had broken the rules at the last meeting.
Councillor Kenny MacLaren (SNP – Paisley North West) and member of the Economy and Jobs board stated:
“What is the role of the Council Leader in awarding this contract to his employer? At the policy board meeting one council officer stated that it was Kibble who approached the council seeking funding for the project – who advised them to do this, their public policy advisor?”