Edinburgh coalition partners challenged to publish deal

Edinburgh City Council group Leaders SNP Councillor Adam McVey, left, and Labour Councillor Cammy Day sign the coalition agreement. Picture: PA
Edinburgh City Council group Leaders SNP Councillor Adam McVey, left, and Labour Councillor Cammy Day sign the coalition agreement. Picture: PA
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LEADERS of the SNP-Labour administration which took charge of the Capital after the council elections are under pressure to publish details of their coalition agreement.

The SNP’s Adam McVey and Labour’s Cammy Day formally signed the deal on June 16 at the City Chambers.

But opposition councillors complain the document was never made public.

And the council website still features the 2012 coalition agreement signed between the two parties after the previous council elections.

Challenged on the issue at the full council meeting on June 29, Cllr McVey said the new deal would be published – but it has not appeared yet.

The Evening News revealed the key points of the draft coalition agreement days before it was finally approved.

However, the Tories said the full final agreement should be available for the public to see.

And their indignation was heightened when council chief executive Andrew Kerr said in a blog circulated to staff that officials had spent an away day last week “planning our next five years and looking at how we’ll deliver the council coalition manifesto”.

Conservative group chair, Councillor Jason Rust said: “It is over two months since the local elections, nearly one month since the coalition agreement was signed and two weeks since the new administration gave a commitment to council to publish the agreement and yet there is still no sign of it.

“We have a situation whereby senior officers are apparently planning how to deliver the ‘coalition 
manifesto’, there have been partial announcements to the media and yet opposition elected members are being kept totally in the dark.

“This lack of transparency is of real concern and the Edinburgh public deserve to know what has been agreed and with whom.”

The coalition deal was not signed until six weeks after the council elections amid opposition from inside the Labour group as well as among party activists and a delay by the national party in endorsing it.

Cllr Day has described the period spent trying to form the coalition as “the most challenging six weeks of my life”.

Two days after the signing, Labour Colinton/Fairmilehead councillor Scott Arthur tweeted that he had not seen the deal.

One source said Labour backbenchers had seen drafts of the agreement, but then never knew whether their suggested changes had been accepted or not until they saw the final version about a week after it had been signed.

Cllr McVey insisted the deal was not a “secret document” and would be published soon. “What we are trying to do now is work on what is essentially the council’s business plan and get the pledges from the agreement integrated into that so we are monitoring not just actions but also outcomes.

“That should be going to full council in August and I would expect it to be published as soon as possible.

“I have absolutely no issue with publishing the actual contract, but in terms of what people expect we would probably be better to put them side by side.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com