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MONKLANDS MEMBERS REJECT BLACK REPORT

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An independent report citing evidence of political bias, malpractice and nepotism in Monklands DC has been condemne...
An independent report citing evidence of political bias, malpractice and nepotism in Monklands DC has been condemned by the council as inaccurate and misleading.

Monklands members, in their first public response to the independent inquiry headed by Robert Black, professor of Scottish law at Edinburgh University, highlighted what they called 'a number of serious factual inaccuracies' in his findings.

They gave full backing to a report presented to the policy committee by Dennis Ward, director of administration and legal services. This report also claimed that 'sources which may have been thought by the inquiry to be reliable were in fact unreliable'.

The Monklands statement was issued just days before the Labour Party national executive council was presented with the initial findings of its own investigation into Monklands, set up following the suspension of the council's 17-member ruling Labour group in June.

The council's response, drawn up by officers, does not address the Black report's most serious allegations relating to recruitment and nepotism. It was claimed, for example, that 16 of the council's 21 members had relations employed by the council and that appointments were skewed towards the predominantly Catholic town of Coatbridge.

These nepotism allegations are the subject of a separate statutory inquiry, and the officers' report says: 'It is not thought appropriate to comment.'

But Mr Ward rejected claims that spending was biased towards the predominantly Catholic town of Coatbridge and away from largely Protestant Airdrie.

The value of strategic services had to be stripped out since they benefited the wider community, he said. This left Coatbridge accounting for 43% of general services capital expenditure and Airdrie accounting for 46%.

Professor Black's figures suggested at least 54% of this expenditure went to Coatbridge compared with 34% for Airdrie.

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