SCOTTISH Labour have been accused of an “inexcusable” attempt “to shut the door to public scrutiny” amid a row over the handling of a council meeting in Edinburgh.

On Thursday, councillors in Scotland’s capital gathered for a meeting of the Transport and Environment Committee, which should have been broadcast in full online.

However, Scott Arthur, the committee’s convener, switched off the live stream of the meeting after he was challenged by a Green councillor on why two emergency motions were to be excluded from the agenda.

Councillor Claire Miller and SNP colleagues were looking to bring forward emergency motions on “unsafe” and “illegal” driver behaviour at a Leith Walk junction in Edinburgh.

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The broadcast of the meeting shows Miller arguing that her motion is “competent, relevant, and urgent”. Arthur says the motion is not urgent, adding: “This is not a debate.”

Miller says she has not had a chance to explain her position, before Arthur orders the webcast to be cut off while she is speaking.

The Green councillor accused her Labour counterpart of laughing at her and “belittling me in a public meeting”, and said she'd be asking for a public apology.

The committee broadcast cut out for around 10 minutes, before returning to see Arthur apologise for having switched it off. He admitted he was “incorrect” to do so without asking for the committee’s approval.

The National:

Adam McVey (above), the SNP group leader and former head of Edinburgh council, said that the “quite unbelievable scenes” had “literally never happened before in our council”.

“Labour setting a new low for Edinburgh. Arrogant. Undemocratic. Shameful,” he added.

McVey later told The National: “We’ve now heard the full account from those who were in the committee and I’m afraid it raises even more questions about Scott Arthur’s conduct.

“Not only did Labour decide they weren’t interested in hearing the issue debated but the conduct appears to have been incredibly rude, arrogant, and not in the spirit of how we should do politics.

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“Scott Arthur has already given a half apology to the councillor, another in a long line [from Scottish Labour councillors].

“Shutting the public out of our democratic process feels like another new low for Labour.”

Local democracy reporter Donald Turvill quoted Arthur as saying he had paused the broadcast because he “was concerned about the reputation of the council”.

The Labour convener said he was “not aware” that he needed the approval of the committee to shut off the live broadcast. LibDem group leader Kevin Lang called out the move at the time, saying it meant the committee was “effectively … sitting in a private session”.

Addressing the controversy, Green councillor Miller wrote on Twitter that she would be seeking a public apology from Arthur over his behaviour.

She said: “I'm very sorry that the emergency motion which I hoped to table about the unsafe driver behaviour at Brunswick Road/Leith Walk was not deemed to be urgent by our committee yesterday.

“I was not allowed to explain to the convener and the committee why it was urgent. He laughed at my request to speak to explain the urgency, belittling me in a public meeting before turning off the webcast, against our procedures.

“With the webcast off, and effectively therefore no longer in a public meeting, I tried to challenge his decision to take us into private session but was unsuccessful until Councillor Lang stepped in and backed me up while others nodded and agreed.

“Councillors in the room from every political group have all approached me outside the meeting to offer sympathy and express support for me after the treatment I received. The convenor has privately apologised to me, and I have accepted his apology, but since it was a public meeting I am going to write to him seeking a more appropriate apology.”

Arthur has said – on Twitter and at the committee meeting – that the issue raised by Miller of illegal driver behaviour would be addressed at the “All Party Oversight Group" (APOG) meeting scheduled for November 8.

However, Miller said that the APOG meeting was “sadly” not public and that she knows “other councillors who also share my sense of urgency” of the issue.

Arthur has maintained that the motion was not urgent and so not suitable to be heard at the meeting. He also said he had already asked that the motion be acted upon and for police to attend Tuesday’s APOG.

Labour took control of Edinburgh Council following the local elections in May 2022 thanks to support from the Tories and LibDems groups.

The party controls the Scottish capital despite having won just 13 seats out of 63, and suspended two of its own councillors after they refused to vote with the Tories to take power

Scottish Labour were approached for comment.