Council chiefs have been branded ‘incompetent’ after a local authority by-election was scrapped just weeks before it was due to be take place.   

SNP-run Renfrewshire Council has announced that the proposed poll for the Paisley Southeast ward, due to be held on Tuesday 14 December, will now not go ahead. 

The vote was being held after the recall of independent councilor Paul Mack, who was disqualified from the seat after being found guilty of breaching standards. 

But Mr Mack has now launched an appeal against that decision at the Court of Session, meaning the by-election cannot be held within the expected timeframe. 

It was claimed the councillor, who had been a member Renfrewshire Council for 25 years, had directed a hate campaign towards fellow ward representatives Eddie Devine and Alistair Mackay. 

The Standards Commission for Scotland had previously banned Mr Mack after he made claims that Councillor Devine had influenced council officers into allocating his daughter a house. 

He also launched a series of “offensive and demeaning personal attacks” on the pair, the Commission said, which went “well beyond what might be considered normal or even acceptable in a party political context” and amounted to harassment.  

The housing allocation was reviewed by Renfrewshire Council’s chief auditor and then Audit Scotland, which concluded that the council property was appropriately let and that there was no influence, or opportunity for influence. 

Mr Mack had denied any wrongdoing and took the council to court.  

The decision to halt the vote comes while local parties were in the middle of campaigning. 

Scottish Labour’s Neil Bibby, MSP for West Scotland, described the situation as an “absolute shambles”. 

He Tweeted: "Paisley Southeast council by-election is off because SNP run [Renfrewshire Council] didn’t do their homework. This is unprecedented.  

“Postal votes & polling cards have already been sent out. How much time & public money has been wasted due to this gross incompetence?”  

Renfrewshire’s Returning Officer, Ken Graham said: “Following legal advice, I can confirm the decision to cancel the Paisley Southeast by-election due to be held on 14th December.  

“The decision not to proceed follows correspondence from Mr Mack’s solicitor to confirm he has lodged a further appeal against his qualification with the Court of Session. There is no indication of when this will take place. Mr Mack’s last appeal against disqualification was rejected in full by the Sherriff Principal in October. 

 “We apologise to Candidates and Agents involved and to local voters in the Paisley Southeast ward, recognising the disruption and inconvenience caused. Please be assured every reasonable step was taken to ensure the vacancy could be filled. 

 Mr Graham added: “The immediate priority is to work with the Electoral Commission and others in relation to the practical steps to bring the election process to an end and to ensure local voters are aware the election will not go ahead.”