Local Elections: Stalemate at City Chambers two weeks on

It has been two weeks since the count at Meadowbank. Picture; Neil Hanna
It has been two weeks since the count at Meadowbank. Picture; Neil Hanna
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THE stalemate at the City Chambers over who will form the next administration shows no sign of early resolution.

Two weeks after the council elections, there is no coalition deal in place and no agreement on the way forward.

The key players on Edinburgh's Council are still to reach an agreement.

The key players on Edinburgh's Council are still to reach an agreement.

Today’s first full council meeting since the elections is due to vote on a new Lord Provost, with the SNP proposing its former group leader Frank Ross. But other appointments are expected to be postponed for at least a week.

The 19-strong SNP group, led by Adam McVey, and the Labour group, led by Cammy Day, which has 12 councillors came to an agreement last week on a proposed coalition, only for Labour’s Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) to put it on hold while it asked for more information.

Labour’s local campaign forum, made up of constituency party representatives across the city, has also voiced concerns about the deal.

Meanwhile the Conservative group, led by Iain Whyte, pressed their case for a deal with Labour, but the Labour group rejected their advances.

Labour has set out key criteria which any coalition deal must meet, including opposition to austerity, no compulsory redundancies and no privatisation of council services.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said the decision not to give the go-ahead to the proposed coalition was because it “didn’t pass the test on protecting public services”.

Labour’s SEC met again last night but the Edinburgh Labour group had not made any further submission, so it is understood the situation in the Capital was not discussed.

The party has already approved a Labour/SNP alliance in South Ayrshire and a similar deal in Fife is expected to be confirmed today.

So where do the parties agree and disagree?

LABOUR and the SNP were in coalition together for five years up until the council elections on May 4.

And it was widely expected the two parties would come together again afterwards – even if it meant Labour handing over the lead role to the SNP.

The Nationalists had already ruled out working with the Conservatives.

Despite their obvious disagreement about independence, there are many issues on which Labour and the SNP agree. And a comparison of party manifestos from the election seems to show Labour has more common ground with the Nationalists than with the Conservatives.

ECONOMY

All parties promised support for start-up companies and encourage growth in high-tech sectors.

The SNP and Labour both said they would encourage companies to pay the living wage.

The SNP and Labour also promised more studio and creative spaces for artists and designers.

Labour and the Conservatives wanted a review the planning appeal system to give communities a right to appeal and shorten decision-making times.

The Tories wanted business rates reform with more local control and incentives.

The Tories also called for a cabinet system to run the council, with fewer committees, and an “Edinburgh index” as a measure of all council service performance.

HOUSING

The SNP and Labour both pledged to increase the supply of low-cost homes.

All parties said they would prioritise brownfield sites for development.

The SNP said it would use new powers to tackle high rents.

Labour promised to manage the expansion of holiday lets in the city.

The Tories called for the remove or reduction of the

25 per cent affordable housing requirement for targeted brownfield sites.

They also wanted to trial self-build serviced housing plots which would not requiring planning permission.

EDUCATION

All parties talked about improving attainment, investing in school infrastructure and ensuring safety.

They also all spoke of putting more resources into early years education.

The SNP said it would develop a pilot project to provide school meals over the holidays, and pledged to continue free music tuition.

Labour and the Conservatives both promised to widen community access to sports facilities.

Labour said it would increase number of classroom assistants.

The Tories called for a new board of head teachers, university and business leaders and parents to progress skills for young people.

TRANSPORT

All parties proposed more investment in roads and pavements and pledged to keep Lothian Buses in public ownership.

Labour backed the tram extension to Newhaven and the SNP supported it in principle, but the Tories rejected the current business case for the project.

Labour and the SNP both promises to continue devoting 10 per cent of the transport budget to cycling.

Labour also proposed a cycle hire scheme, electric buses and a budget for encouraging walking.

The SNP wanted to charge utility companies rent for digging up the roads.

The Tories said they would suspend roll-out of the 20mph zones and review the policy and also scrap plans for Sunday parking charges.

ENVIRONMENT

All parties promise to tackle air pollution – Labour says it would create a low emission zone, the SNP talks of a city-wide programme to cut carbon emissions.

The SNP and Labour both promise to introduce free uplift of bulky items.

The SNP pledged to halve the number of missed bin collections in first six months.

The SNP and Labour both backed a bottle deposit scheme.

The Conservatives and Labour both pledged to increase recycling.

The SNP and Labour both want more play areas.

And both seem keen on encouraging grow-your-own: the SNP promised more allotments, Labour said it would expand community gardens and food-growing initiatives.

The Tories wanted to tender all or parts of the waste and cleansing service.

All parties said they would build the new Meadowbank sports centre.