GLASGOW City Council has been accused of “censoring” the views of desperate carers protesting against plans which they believe could jeopardise vital support services.

A petition against plans to put contracts for six carers centres out to competitive tender was rejected by the local authority before it could be debated by councillors. The council said that it was “at odds with European procurement law”.

It has emerged that this is the second petition to be rejected in as many weeks – the first protested against controversial cuts to free school bus services

It was lodged too soon after the plans had been implemented, the council said.

The tendering means the carers centres – which support up to 55,000 carers across the city – have to bid for the funding they currently get.

This controversial decision was taken by senior officials on the back of legal advice, say the council.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticised this process and urged carers to fight the plans when she met them in July.

The SNP’s deputy group leader, Cllr David McDonald, has accused the council of “watering down the public’s ability to hold them to account”.

He said: “For many years there has been anger in communities who feel the council ignores the views of people, but the fact it’s now using the petitions committee to censor the views of concerned citizens is a step too far.”

When the First Minister met with carers at the South West Carers Centre, on Paisley Road West, in July she praised the “vital” work they do.

She said that Glasgow City Council are “legally responsible and entitled” to take a decision about the contract tender but said: “Don’t let them tell you they have no choice.”

Carolan Connelly, who lodged the petition, has called on the council to rethink the rejection.

She said: “I am disappointed that Glasgow City Council has failed to be transparent, open and democratic in its decision making.” She said the decision “will have a profound affect on the lives of its citizens, who are unpaid service providers of care.”

The SNP group have called for the tendering process to be halted and the petitions to be considered and have lodged a motion to be heard at a full council meeting tomorrow.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “Petitions will go forward if they meet our petitions guidance and have completed the validation process, which takes account of the wider legal obligations of the council.
“People are fully entitled to their opinions and the council has done nothing to prevent anyone from expressing their opinion on these matters.
“Tendering for carers’ services is a process required by European laws on procurement. The basis of the petition was therefore at odds with rules on procurement found in the council’s standing orders and so it could not be accepted by the council.”