LABOUR has rejected an approach from the Conservatives for a three-way coalition to run Edinburgh.
Labour group leader Cammy Day said his party could not do a deal with the Tories because they refused to commit to a tourist tax and would not rule out privatisation of services.
The Tories emailed all 12 Labour councillors at the weekend, setting out proposals for a Conservative-Labour-Lib Dem deal. The email highlighted areas where they claimed there was common ground between the parties, including more investment in roads and pavements, prioritising capital spending on school maintenance, an increase in housebuilding, encouraging walking and cycling, building the new Meadowbank and keeping Lothian Buses in public ownership.
Cllr Day said the email had been discussed at a group executive meeting yesterday. He said: “We continue to believe we are unable to progress discussions with the Tories.
“There are a lot of things all the parties have in common, but we have red lines in terms of the tourist tax, relations with the trade unions and a presumption against privatisation.”
Cllr Day said the Tories were unwilling to commit to a tourist tax, would find it difficult to support the trade unions in campaigns against austerity since it was a UK Conservative government which was imposing the policy, and although they had a “fudged” line on privatisation, they failed rule it out.
The council elections on May 4 made the SNP the biggest party on the council with 19 seats, while the Tories are just one behind on 18, Labour has 12, the Greens eight and Lib Dems six. But the city is still waiting to find out who will for the administraion.
The Labour group came to an agreement with the Nationalists last week on a new SNP-led coalition, following on from the two parties’ partnership over the past five years when Labour took the senior role. But Labour’s Scottish executive committee has not yet given the deal the go-ahead.
Meanwhile the SNP announced it will nominate its former group leader Frank Ross as Lord Provost when the newly-elected council meets for the first time on Thursday – whether or not the party has reached a coalition deal with Labour.
Cllr Ross said: “To be selected as the SNP candidate for Lord Provost is a great honour and privilege. There is no higher civic honour than being asked to represent the Capital on a local and worldwide stage. I’m determined to ensure that all the diverse elements of civic life have a voice in our council chamber and I’ll be working to make sure our council is as inclusive as possible.”
SNP group leader Adam McVey said Cllr Ross would bring enormous distinction and boundless energy to the role. “We need a Lord Provost who will always put our city first and be a leader for all of us regardless of which political party we support. Frank Ross will do just that,” he said.
SNP sources said they were hopeful they could get enough support from other parties to secure a majority for Cllr Ross.
The Labour group is due to discuss today whether to put forward a nomination for the role.