CRISIS talks have been called between Edinburgh’s Labour and SNP leaders after the most serious falling out between the coalition parties since they went into partnership nearly two years ago.
The SNP group has invoked a formal disputes procedure for the first time, accusing Labour’s Cammy Day of trying to claim credit for reversing a proposed cut in funding for the police when he had never argued for the change of heart.
The Nationalists have complained Councillor Day, the council’s community safety leader, revealed the decision to ditch the planned cut in advance of the agreed announcement. But they say it was the SNP who demanded the £500,000 cut be reversed and insist Cllr Day was happy to see it go ahead.
The SNP is expected to demand that Cllr Day be officially reprimanded or handed a warning.
The council’s draft budget included a reduction in the £2.7 million it gives to the police each year amid concerns the community officers it funds were being diverted to other duties. But after discussions, which included the police agreeing to reinstate road safety training in city schools, the funding will now continue unchanged.
One SNP source said: “Cammy Day never argued that £500,000 should not be cut, but he jumped in to claim credit.
“The sheer hypocrisy has really rankled with the SNP group. It’s political opportunism of the worst kind.
“It was us who ensured the money was put back in. We said we would not vote for the budget unless the policing budget was unscathed. We fought tooth and nail to have that part of the budget left alone.
“Cammy is just desperate to enhance his reputation because he is standing for Westminster in Edinburgh West.
“We have now invoked the disputes procedure between the two parties.
“We didn’t do it lightly. Normally these things would be resolved by the whips talking to each other, but we felt this was so flagrant there was nothing else left to us.”
Under the disputes procedure, three senior figures from each party will seek to thrash out their differences.
Despite the rift, both sides have insisted the coalition is not under threat. The meeting is expected next week.
SNP group leader Steve Cardownie said: “The fact we have invoked this procedure, which is not the normal way of resolving these kind of differences, reflects the strength of feeling in the SNP group.”
But he insisted the SNP and Labour would continue their partnership.
He said: “We are determined this coalition will last all the way until the next election. We have worked well together so far and we are confident this will be resolved.”
Council Labour leader Andrew Burns said: “Since the formation of the Capital coalition in May 2012, just as you would expect, there have been several occasions when robust, internal discussion has taken place.
“Every such event has led to an agreed solution, and I’ve no doubt that will be the case in this instance.”
Cllr Day was unavailable for comment.