Fun and games at first TV council meeting

FORMER Lord Provost Liz Cameron is rarely stuck for words but last week she did her best to stay schtum - and failed.

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The occasion was the first televised coverage of a Glasgow council meeting and the grand council chamber was packed with elected representatives desperate to make their TV debut.

The proceedings opened with Lord Provost Sadie Docherty welcoming Langside councillor Susan Aitken in her new role as leader of the SNP opposition. Ms Aitken has replaced Graeme Hendry, who recently decided to step down to spend time with his growing family.

Mr Hendry was warmly thanked for his time at the helm by Ms Aitken, who told the mainly male city council: "If more men were like Graeme, the world would be a better place."

A few nervous shuffles and it was on with business.

Council meetings are generally serious affairs, but from time to time the tedium is broken with the odd quip.

It was Mrs Cameron who was first to lighten the mood during a worthy debate on the need for Glasgow to recycle more.

The councillor for Garscadden/Scotstounhill is widely popular but has a reputation for talking longer than is necessary for her or her listeners. It is a gentle rebuke she takes on the chin and the historic televised council meeting did not put her off poking fun at herself.

As Mrs Cameron got to her feet, amid mock groans from her fellow councillors, she said: "I was going to remain silent this afternoon but I suffer from a condition, which is an incapacity to shut up."

And she didn't finish there.

Many moons ago, before his spell as an MSP, Shettleston councillor Frank McAveety was convener of arts and culture and Liz Cameron was his sidekick.

She said: "I was Frank McAveety's deputy. He used to introduce me by saying, 'This is my vice'.

The mind boggled - as it did when City Treasurer Paul Rooney drew attention to a show of nakedness by SNP councillor Phil Green.

Mr Green had decided to mark the first televised council meeting by turning up in Highland attire.

Referring to the fact the cameras zooms in on any councillor who stands up to make a point, Mr Rooney said: "I am glad it is only head shots because I have seen people's knees."

One can only hope it was Mr Green's knees he was referring to.

But it was not all fun and games at the meeting, as the serious matter of how much Glasgow gets from the Scottish Government to fund its services was high on the agenda.

Council leader Gordon Matheson claims Finance Secretary John Swinney is planning to introduce a change in the funding formula that would "rob" the city of a further £15million.

That is no laughing matter for a council already struggling to cope with lack of cash.

Local government

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