SNP and Liberal Democrat councillors were jeered by a packed public gallery as they walked out of a special meeting on the future of Fife’s care homes after only three minutes.
Any debate on the planned privatisation of Fife’s care home places was quelled by a technicality.
In order to discuss the matter, two-thirds of the councillors present had to agree to rescind standing orders.
And when that vote failed, the debate collapsed.
Iain Grant, standards and governance officer, highlighted the protocol at the start of the crucial debate.
Standing order 31 states that any decision made by the Council is operative and binding for six months, and would have to be rescinded before any new vote on the proposal took place.
Voting along party lines, the SNP and Liberal Democrats opted to end the meeting and promptly walked out to the disbelief of the members of the public.
The gallery included protesters, care home staff and relatives of residents, who chanted “shame”.
Cllr Alex Rowley (pictured right), leader of the opposition, branded that the meeting was a “complete sham.”
He said he had previously sought legal advice from Mr Grant himself, who had given the opposition motion the OK.
He said: “The SNP and Liberal Democrats hide behind a technicality as they lack the conviction and confidence to have a proper debate about future of care for the elderly in Fife. Labour took legal advice from Council law officers and changed the wording of the motion on that advice they gave us.
‘‘However, we are not going to get caught up talking about technicalities while the real issue passes without proper debate and analysis.”
He added he would immediately be lodging a complaint with the Chief Executive of Fife Council.
However Peter Grant, (pictured left) leader of Fife Council, accused the opposition group of “incompetence and hypocrisy” and said it was now the Council’s duty to accept the decision.
He added: “Every councillor in Fife knew that the social work and health committee on February 1 had the authority to decide on Council policy for the provision of residential care.
‘‘Some councillors may not have agreed with the decision, others who knew it was the correct decision have decided it’s politically expedient to say they’re against it, but no councillor has any excuse for misleading the public into thinking that there was any reason to reconsider the committee’s decision.”