WEST Dunbartonshire’s Provost Douglas McAllister has apologised following claims he set a “dangerous precedence” at the council’s budget-setting meeting.

At the meeting on March 6, which was held at West Dunbartonshire Council’s (WDC) headquarters in Dumbarton and attended by the Post, the Provost rejected requests from councillors to take a recess.

One request was made to allow a councillor, who disclosed a disability, time to read over an 18-page budget document that had been handed out.

Following the Provost’s refusal for an adjournment, another councillor advised that this could be viewed as a breach of the Equality Act 2010.

At this time a legal officer was brought in.

The legal officer said: “There is an overriding requirement on us to comply with disability discrimination legislation however, the interpretation of that when it comes to this chamber does fall to the Provost to do so.

“There are provisions within the standing orders that can allow requests for adjournments for particular purposes and there are provisions within there which would allow that to be moved.

“It is down to the chair as to how they interpret whether or not that duty has been right. A point has been raised and the Provost has determined that he feels that it is appropriate to continue.”

One councillor responded: “Disgusting behaviour” after it was confirmed a recess would not be granted.

Following the meeting West Dunbartonshire Joint Trade Unions (JTU) published a statement saying they were “shocked and outraged” by this decision.

It reads: “West Dunbartonshire JTU are shocked and outraged by a decision taken in the council chamber tonight by the Provost and backed by the legal officer.

“A local councillor disclosed a disability and asked for a reasonable adjustment for time to read the papers.

“Ultimately this request for an adjournment to allow elected members time to read the documentation was refused, despite another councillor advising that this could be viewed as a breach of the Equalities Act.

“Our position is that legislation that is in place with a view to supporting people to participate in all aspects of our society takes precedence and should be adhered to.

“This sets a dangerous precedent here in West Dunbartonshire. Our branches send a strong message to all, we will not tolerate this practice in West Dunbartonshire.”

In response, Provost Douglas McAllister said: “I’m sorry if my decision has caused any upset. As Provost of West Dunbartonshire Council, I always endeavour to be inclusive in my approach and practice.  

“This matter has not previously been raised by the councillor however having had a chance to reflect I will consider all future requests accordingly.”