SNP councillors in Falkirk have accused Labour of helping start a Tory coup of the local authority, after voting to change the structures of the council.

Though they still remain in control of the council, those reforms now means the SNP no longer have a majority on the ruling executive committee.

On Thursday morning, that panel had eight SNP councillors, two Labour, one Tory and an independent.

But after the vote, the new make-up of the body will be five SNP councillors, four Labour and three Tories.

Labour’s Dennis Goldie replaces the SNP’s Cecil Meiklejohn as chair of the committee.

Speaking before the meeting, Tory group leader Malcolm Nicol insisted it was about representation and not a power grab: “No one party got a majority at Falkirk Council at the last election and some people need a reminder of that.

“The SNP only got 40 per cent of the seats in the full council, yet it holds 75 per cent of the seats on the executive.

“We have a quarter of the seats in the council, but only a twelfth of the seats in the executive committee – we just want a quarter of the seats on the executive and to be able to look at everything on an issue by issue basis.

“I would imagine Labour will support it because it benefits them too – they would be mad to vote against it”

The SNP said there were striking similarities between what happened in Falkirk and what happened in Aberdeen, when a coalition between Labour and Tory in the granite city saw former party chief Kezia Dugdale suspend her councillors.

Meiklejohn wrote to Richard Leonard last week, asking him to intervene.

Yesterday, after the vote, she said: “The people of Falkirk voted for the SNP to lead their Council – they put their trust in us to deliver better local services for them and their communities.

“But Labour and the Tories have arrogantly deigned that they know better.

This vote, she added, “completely undermines the democratic choice of the people of Falkirk and is a shameless and self-serving move to seize control of the council.

“In Labour’s case it’s completely inexcusable. They cannot be taken seriously as a party on the left when they’re happy to hop into bed with the austerity-obsessed Tories at the first sniff of power.

“The only reasonable response from Richard Leonard should be to suspend his council group in Falkirk from the Labour Party with immediate effect, following the precedent set in Aberdeen.

“Anything less sends a troubling message that Labour councillors are free to back Tory austerity with impunity.”

A Labour spokesperson said this was “desperate stuff from the Nationalists.”

“Only in the fantasy world of the SNP can a party be simultaneously ousted and remain in charge of a council.

“Falkirk Council is a minority SNP administration. It is false to say that has changed.

“The SNP in Falkirk was happy to work with the Tories to pass its recent budget. The Nationalists remain the largest group on the executive.

“As far as Labour is concerned there has been no deal and there will be no deal done with the Tories in Falkirk.”

In last year’s election, the SNP were returned with 12 councillors, down one from 2012, while Labour lost four councillors, winning nine, and the Tories went from one councillor to seven.