SNP MEMBERS have said they are “bitterly disappointed” with the party's response after concerns were raised over a "toxic" environment in a council group and an investigation was promised.

The SNP have failed to reply to two letters from a local branch despite Humza Yousaf pledging that an investigation would be undertaken into “the party’s handling of the complaints”.

Uddingston and Bellshill branch wrote to the party leader in May, and again in September with a follow-up, to highlight concerns over the environment of the North Lanarkshire SNP group, which activists believe is the root of the SNP’s by-election loss in Bellshill.

The Bellshill by-election came after the party lost seven councillors, who were expelled or resigned, after raising concerns about former colleague Jordan Linden.

READ MORE: Bellshill: Humza Yousaf launches campaign amid 'tense' branch

The branch wrote to leadership figures including SNP national secretary Lorna Finn in March alleging there had been “continual failings by the North Lanarkshire SNP leadership team”, a failure to investigate sexual misconduct and “abuse of power”.

National Secretary Lorna Finn visited the branch to speak with members, however the executive of Uddingston and Bellshill wrote to Yousaf after they said they “have exhausted all internal escalations bar one”.

With no reply or acknowledgement, then convener of the branch Alison Cameron gave a hard copy of the letter to an SNP staffer when the party launched the Bellshill by-election campaign in June.

It stated: “As convener of Uddingston and Bellshill SNP Constituency Branch, I am writing to ask for your urgent intervention, following the total breakdown of the SNP group at North Lanarkshire Council.

“Arbitrary, disproportionate and bullying behaviour on the part of the SNP group leader and some of her group colleagues has led to all four of our local councillors and three others being harassed and victimised for rightly challenging malpractice within the SNP group.”

The group addressed Yousaf personally, writing: “You have spoken openly of your commitment to governance and transparency, which I think we are all agreed is surely the only way forward if our party is to survive and indeed thrive.

"It is in this spirit and on behalf of our branch and our wronged councillors, that I am asking that you launch a full, open and transparent investigation into the shameful proceedings and toxic governance within the NLC SNP group.”

Cameron also spoke to Yousaf (below) and was assured by him that a full and independent inquiry would take place after the by-election.

The National:

When asked in Bellshill on the council campaign trail whether he had replied to the letter sent by the branch, the First Minister replied: “I’ll make sure I look at the letter and reply obviously in due course. I have been speaking to local members, MSPs, local councillors, in fact the leader of the SNP group as well.

“We will investigate, of course, some of the allegations that have been made about the party and about the party’s handing of the complaints.”

He also said: “We’re absolutely holding our hands up – I as First Minister and leader of the party say that things of course could have been handled better. That’s why we’ll do the investigation."

With no response having been received to the first letter, the branch wrote a second after the council seat was gained by Labour, again explaining what they perceived as the reason for the loss.

The second letter stated: “To date, no action has been taken and several attempts by the branch to get in touch with the party have resulted in no response."

READ MORE: North Lanarkshire SNP Group: 'Beyond toxic' say seven councillors

The branch also emailed an NEC representative directly in August: “With an apparent focus on governance and transparency, we are extremely disappointed to have had no response from the party leader.

"In the interests of common courtesy and accountability to branch members, ‘governance and transparency’, and natural justice, Uddingston & Bellshill SNP Branch ask the NEC to use its influence to require (a) a response to the letters sent on behalf of Branch members and (b), an assurance that a full and independent inquiry into the actions of the SNP Group will be set up forthwith.”

Newly-elected convener Andrew Richmond said the representative had replied confirming that opportunities for representatives to raise local matters were extremely limited.

Members of the branch want to make clear that they are “bitterly disappointed” with the treatment they have received and wonder if the First Minister know he is being “represented in this way”.

READ MORE: BBC announces major cuts to flagship programme Newsnight

Their “ultimate concern” is the performance of the SNP at the General Election within North Lanarkshire following the by-election loss if there is no change.

Richmond told The National: “As the newly elected convener, I am appalled at the contempt shown to our branch, particularly at a time when the SNP has just completed a governance and transparency review, with a much-heralded promise of candour and openness.

“I feel bitterly disappointed at party officials and staffers who have let down not only our branch, but more importantly Humza, at a time when he needs highly competent and supportive people around him.

“How can our party reset the relationship between HQ and its members if the culture remains one of cover up and avoidance when critical questions are asked? If an inquiry does not get underway and report quickly, then I have real fears for SNP election hopes in North Lanarkshire.”

Activists from neighbouring ward Motherwell and Ravenscraig are aware of the internal dispute and had reservations about campaigning in their upcoming by-election, which Labour came out top at.

Motherwell and Ravenscraig activists refused to comment for fear of how this would affect their future in the party.

Richmond added: “I am however forever the optimist. I remain hopeful that our branch will soon get the review it has been long promised, clearing the way for the SNP Group in North Lanarkshire to implement urgent and necessary reform.”

When asked for an update for the Uddingston and Bellshill members, an SNP spokesperson said: “As households continue to pay the price of Westminster’s cost of living crisis, it it vital we campaign to elect as many SNP representatives as possible who will stand up for Scotland’s interests in the face of Brexit, austerity and the denial of Scottish democracy.

“The individual named in the initial complaint has left both the SNP and North Lanarkshire Council. There is no further action that the SNP can take. Other individuals, subsequently complained about by SNP members, have left the SNP to form their own political party. Again, no further action can be taken against them.”