Will ex-SNP councillors get fair treatment or will revenge be exacted? – Steve Cardownie

The new Epic group of former SNP councillors on Edinburgh City Council should be given the same representation rights as all the others, writes Steve Cardownie.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 6:00 am
Lewis Ritchie is one of three members of the EPIC group. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Last Saturday this paper reported that “former SNP councillors have formed a new political party on Edinburgh City Council after becoming ‘increasingly frustrated’ at having no say on the authority’s business”.

The three councillors in question – Gavin Barrie, Claire Bridgman and Lewis Ritchie (pictured) – maintain that they were left with little option but to take this action after they became aware that other groups on the council, apart from the Liberal Democrats, were intent on continuing to block their participation as members on council committees.

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The quota system for allocating committee places does not take into account councillors sitting as independents who are therefore being prevented from carrying out their full range of duties so their view was that the only way to resolve the situation, given the other groups’ intransigence, was to form another group, Edinburgh Party of Independent Councillors – Epic for short.

Apparently all groups were contacted some time ago regarding the desire of independent councillors to be represented on committees but only the Lib Dems bothered to reply, offering support, with all the other groups waiting until the full council meeting to signal their opposition, which on the face of it would appear to be discourteous to say the least.

A meeting is to be held between the authority’s chief executive, Andrew Kerr, and Epic tomorrow where they should learn what their committee allocation would be if the current formula was applied, then once full council approves the proposal they will take up their places.

It should be a foregone conclusion that full council will apply the rubber stamp, as preventing councillors from enjoying the same representation rights that are afforded to all others could be deemed hypocritical if not outright undemocratic, but given that all three effectively “crossed the floor” it will be interesting to see if fair treatment comes into play or if “revenge” will be exacted.