“This issue will not go away, no matter how many times Labour try to close down the debate or refuse to answer questions” said Councillor Kenny MacLaren (SNP – Paisley North West).
Renfrewshire SNP Council Group called a Special Council Meeting of Renfrewshire Council to discuss the issue of the funding deal which saw the current Labour leader of Renfrewshire Council actively back the council handing over £25,000 to his employers – the Kibble organisation based in Paisley. However, the council leader, Councillor Mark McMillan, declared a non-financial interest and moved Labour’s amendment. Despite being in the best position to answer all the questions, Cllr McMillan refused as did his Labour colleagues.
The Standards Commission is currently investigating Cllr McMillan’s actions in this decision.
The concerns of the SNP – over and above the involvement of the Labour leader, Cllr Mark McMillan – centre on the details of the project where Kibble trainees are meant to be employed to clean up Paisley High Street, despite the Council Director responsible for such work admitting she knew nothing about the project. Concerns were also raised that the council is breaking its own procurement guidance relating to external suppliers by the trainees only being paid the National Minimum Wage and not the Scottish Living Wage  – which the Labour administration has publicly claimed it wants to do. Kibble, in a reply to Derek Mackay MSP, admitted that they would employ 16-24 year olds on the project, paying the minimum wage. Yet this could be as low as £3.72 – less than half the Scottish Living Wage!
Councillor Kenny MacLaren added:
“Labour has tried desperately to cover up this decision by refusing debate and failing to answer questions at both the Economy and Jobs policy board and full council and now at a special meeting called by the SNP. The SNP group will continue to use every method we have to raise this issue until we receive answers to our questions.
“Labour seem to believe that they can hand out funds to their current leader’s employer without apparently going through the normal procurement procedures and without any level of scrutiny. They are turning Renfrewshire into a dictatorship where even the most simple questions are denied.
“There is definitely something suspicious about this, and serious concerns that the council is handing over a contract worth £25,000 without producing the most basic of information.
The National Minimum Wage ranges from £2.68 for apprentices, £3.72 for under 18s, £5.03 for 18-20 year olds and the full rage at £6.31.
The Scottish Living Wage is currently £7.45