Rebels have seized control of the Paisley Art Institute at a new vote staged after the organisation was plunged into chaos.

And it will likely be a return to the top for former president Joe Hargan, who was among three artists suspended by the previous board.

He was part of a cabal which had pushed for and got a motion of no confidence passed in the management.

They feared the future ownership and exhibition use for the £25million collection of historic Paisley painting was at risk.

After a stormy meeting and vote on Thursday night, secretary Steven Thomson quit “in utter disgust”.

Now a newly elected committee will seek talks with Renfrewshire Leisure, which looks after the artworks.

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Joe told the Paisley Daily Express: “My unjust suspension meant that I was unable to vote, but nonetheless there was overwhelming support for a new regime.

“I understand the newly-elected committee will be seeking a meeting with Renfrewshire Leisure as soon as possible.

“The PAI members have long-running concerns about ownership of the collection and the contract of use in relation to exhibitions.

“The artist members have had enough of being sidelined and we are delighted that this messy and unnecessary saga is finally coming to an end.”

Over a series of weeks, the Express have told of the in-fighting and wrangling at the 145-year-old organisation.

Steven Thomson . . . branded rebels "ungovernable elitists"
Steven Thomson . . . branded rebels "ungovernable elitists"

Steven said he had tried to modernise the PAI, but had now failed in that.

He said after Thursday night’s meeting: “A new committee of long past serving officers of the last 20 years or more were re-elected.

“Basically, all pals of Joe and Anne Hargan, who have stood beside and cheered along bullies.

“They laughed with glee at their victory.

“They showed utter disrespect for the outgoing committee and were barely governable during a difficult meeting hosted by Engage Renfrewshire.

“They interrupted the voting constantly and made the whole process feel torturous.

“They are ungovernable elitists whom I fear will never pass through the door of the museum in any new or old arrangement.

“I suspect more shouting from the hilltops of Oakshaw in their great battle ahead.

“For me, the modernisation of PAI has come to an end. They have burned it down.”

Russell Findlay MSP, who had earlier tried to broker a solution, said: “This decisive vote suggests that peace can finally prevail at PAI.

“Many prominent members raised concerns about the way the institute was being run, but felt like they were being ignored.

“The old committee’s decision to suspend Joe Hargan after he pushed for a vote of no confidence in them seems to have back-fired by galvanising support.

“It is vital that the new committee get the PAI back on an even keel and maintain its position as a cultural crown jewel of Paisley.”

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