FIFE COUNCIL’S co-leaders have lashed back at a “tirade” from Dave Dempsey after the councillor condemned the SNP for abusing council time.

The Conservative group leader claimed a motion to debate Universal Credit was a “monumental waste of time,” and a “staged exercise to give Labour and the SNP something to agree on”.

SNP group leader David Alexander said Dempsey’s statement was “ridiculous”, while Labour group leader David Ross suggested that the Conservatives were the party responsible for abusing council time, and the reason for his “concern” over debating issues like Universal Credit was “motivated by a desire to avoid criticism of his party’s shambolic government in Westminster”.

Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor Dave Dempsey had vented his frustration over previous debates carried out which Fife Council has no control and no influence over ahead of the full Fife Council meeting today (Thursday).

He said: “These motions come from the Labour/SNP administration and their outcome is generally an expression of indignation plus an instruction to the chief executive to write to someone far away telling him or her that Fife Council disapproves. There’s no evidence that any of this makes a blind bit of difference.

“Thursday takes this to a new level. For the third time in a year or so, the council is being asked to ‘debate’ Universal Credit. Apparently, we need to reaffirm that our opinion of it hasn’t changed and we need to write another letter to the Government to say so. 

“‘Dear Government, you remember we wrote to you recently to say we didn’t like Universal Credit. Well, we just wanted you to know that we still don’t like it. Yours, Fife Council’. 

“What a monumental waste of time.

“We know why it happens. It’s a staged exercise to give Labour and the SNP something to agree on. Prior to the 2017 election, they could scarcely stand the sight of each other. Then, suddenly, we were invited to believe they were best buddies. Now, they have to use these stage-managed council meetings to keep that pretence going.

“The Conservatives have had enough of it. On Thursday, we won’t play along. Instead, we’ll stand back in the hope that we can get the whole charade over with as quickly as possible, so everyone involved, councillors and officials, can get back to what they’re supposed to be doing – making Fife better for everyone who lives here.”

His comments were slammed by both co-leaders, with Cllr David Alexander stating: “Dave Dempsey’s tirade would make more sense if one of his councillors hadn’t raised a question at the last policy and co-ordination committee on Scottish Independence.

“The real reason Dave has put in such a ridiculous statement is to avoid answering legitimate points about appalling Tory policies that will be highlighted on Thursday given additional information now available. I suspect shame is the real motive.”

Cllr David Ross added: “If anyone is guilty of abusing time at council meetings it’s the Conservative group, who consistently ask formal questions at council that could easily have been answered with a quick phone call to an officer or committee convenor.

“I suspect that Dave Dempsey’s concerns about the council debating issues such as the impact of Universal Credit are motivated by a desire to avoid criticism of his party’s shambolic government in Westminster.

“It will be interesting to see how the Conservatives are going to ‘stand back’ from the council meeting on Thursday when they have already submitted two motions and five questions themselves.”