MEMBERS at a Scottish council spent almost an hour debating whether or not to have a debate because time was running out at their meeting.

The meeting of North Lanarkshire Council descended into farce as members clashed and one played the Countdown theme. A source said: “We debated for 49 minutes about whether to simply hear or debate motions – crazy, I know.”

The row broke out over whether or not to hear arguments about a bid to make the Labour administration fill in all members on discussions held at high-level meetings of council umbrella body Cosla.

The local authority’s leadership says it’s not their responsibility to share the information and politicians should just ask party colleagues from other councils or search the Cosla website for what they want to know. But Councillor Paul Di Mascio of the SNP says that has to change to improve “transparency and scrutiny”.

With 12 minutes to go before the meeting was due to end, Provost Jean Jones told the online session there wouldn’t be enough time to hear all views on the matter – a position backed by the Tories.

The SNP’s Jordan Linden, who backed Di Mascio’s bid, said the debate wouldn’t last long, but Jones called for a vote to be held without discussion to avoid an overrun.

The resulting back-and-forth took 50 minutes as members argued points of order and sought an extension for Friday morning, with Jones shouting at one member to “just vote” in an ill-tempered exchange with SNP member David Baird, who called back: “Naw, I willnae vote, don’t tell me to ‘just vote’.”

Council leader Jim Logue accused the SNP group of a “clear attempt to undermine” Jones’ authority and Di Mascio telling the session “the debate would have been concluded by now”.

Commenting, the Airdrie South member said the proceedings had been “atrocious”, adding: “The fact that the Labour administration would prefer to debate on whether we actually debate for almost an hour instead of allowing the SNP proposal to debate on a vital motion and then finish meeting, taking up less of members’ time, says a lot about this Labour administration’s undemocratic wishes to block transparency and debate, particularly where it would almost certainly show them in a poor light.”