Tories target City Chambers win

Tory group leader Cameron Rose at the City Chambers. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Tory group leader Cameron Rose at the City Chambers. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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TORIES in the Capital have declared they are bidding to become the largest party on the city council at next year’s elections.

It is more than three decades since the Conservatives were last in power in Edinburgh.

But they believe their unexpected success in the Holyrood elections provides a platform on which they can build.

The party doubled its total number of MSPs in Lothian from two to four, including a surprise victory for Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson in Edinburgh Central.

The Tories currently have 11 councillors to Labour’s 21, the SNP’s 17, five Greens, two Liberal Democrats and two independents. The total number of councillors will increase from 58 to 63 next May as part of a shake-up of seats and boundaries.

Cameron Rose, leader of the council’s Conservative group, said: “There is potential for substantial change in Edinburgh – and that’s what the city needs. We will be offering ourselves to become the biggest party.”

He attacked the current Labour-SNP administration’s “four years of wasted money”.

He said: “People want competence and efficiency, particularly in the basic services the council provides.

“Refuse collection is much too expensive and the council is not doing it very well at the moment. Road surfaces are not what they should in a capital city. In both areas a lot of money has been wasted. We are looking to provide efficiency and competence.

“We need an overall vision for Edinburgh. It’s a great city but we believe we can do a lot better than we have in the last few years.”

Under the Single Transferable Vote system used for council elections in Scotland, it is hard for any party to gain an overall majority, which means most administrations are some sort of coalition. Councillor Rose said: “We are prepared to work with anyone if it takes the city forward.

The Conservatives lost control of the council to Labour in 1984 and have never regained it since.

Tory strategists believe the SNP saw its big surge in support at the last council elections in 2012, a year after it won its unprecedented majority in the Scottish Parliament, and the Tories are now the ones who will see gains next May, based on the boost they got last month.

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: “We’re trying to build up the party. There is a real focus on the council elections next year and trying to take control of the council.

“People do not feel the city is moving forward – the state of the roads the school closures, the whole vision of where the city is going in the future. People don’t think the current council is getting that right. “

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com