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A North Ayrshire Labour councillor who claimed public money for attending a memorial to the dead of two World Wars has been elected as an MSP.
As revealed by the3towns last week, Margaret McDougall, who represents Kilwinning, was surprisingly elected from the number-3 position on Labour’s West of Scotland Regional List. Previously, Labour had never been entitled to ‘Additional Members’ from the Regional List due to its performance in winning most of the constituencies in the area. However, at last week’s election the SNP took six of the ten West of Scotland constituencies, which meant the Proportional Representation ‘second’ vote provided Labour with three additional Regional members.
In addition to charging the public purse for attending an Armistice Parade, Mrs McDougall also submitted a claim in relation to what she described on her Allowances Form as a “Meeting with MEP”. However, the supposed meeting with a Member of the European Parliament took place on May 12, 2009 – after the European Parliament had been dissolved ahead of the European Election on June 4, which meant there were no MEPs. What Cllr McDougall had actually attended, and which she charged to the public purse, was a Labour Party campaign activity in support of its European Parliament candidates.
In the last full year for which figures are available – 2009/2010 - Margaret McDougall claimed allowances totalling £857.30, up 35-percent on her charge to the public purse from the previous twelve-months.
Against a backdrop of cuts to local services, Cllr McDougall claimed public money for attending events such as the Kilwinning Flower Show, a dinner at the Gailes Hotel, a primary school Christmas Fayre, the switching-on of Christmas lights, the crowning of the Segdoune Queen, the Kilwinning Carnival, the Whitehirst Park Gala Day, a ‘political meeting’ in Ardrossan, a ‘weight lift presentation’, a ‘parade’, another switching-on of Christmas lights, the Woodwynd Centre Christmas Fayre, the Blacklands Community Centre Christmas Night, and the Landward Christmas Dinner.
the3towns understands the Labour Party will insist Margaret McDougall does not resign as a North Ayrshire councillor, despite her new duties and responsibilities as a Member of the Scottish Parliament. Labour is fearful it would lose a by-election if Mrs McDougall stood down.