'Cobbled together' plan means Edinburgh council will have 'no leader' for six weeks

COUNCIL bosses have been blasted for “cobbled together” arrangements for the leader of the authority’s adoption leave – with the SNP group chairperson set to share extra responsibilities alongside the Labour boss.

Monday, 19th August 2019, 8:20 pm
Cllr Ellie Bird is set to take over council leadership duties as a caretaker

Council leader Cllr Adam McVey will start six weeks of adoption leave on Friday – with depute leader Cllr Cammy Day set to step up and SNP Cllr Ellie Bird to be given extra money to take on leadership responsibilities.

It is thought that defined roles and responsibilities have not been determined between the SNP and Labour groups yet – with a Labour councillor now demanding a “job description” to justify the “caretaker role”.

Labour leader and the council’s depute leader, Cllr Cammy Day, is expected to be formally deputising, including taking leader’s questions at full council. No-one is technically acting as council leader in Cllr McVey’s absence – as laws prevent the council from appointing a replacement leader.

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It is thought the SNP decision to back the 31-year-old, who is currently the council’s young people’s champion and her party’s group chairperson, will allow Cllr Bird to give the leadership role “the true attention it deserves”.

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She said: “The most important thing for me is that Adam gets the adoption leave that he’s entitled to – that’s a really important message we have to send. I’m taking up this new position as a caretaker role for six weeks, representing the views of my group but also representing the views of the administration, for the best of the city.

“This is a role I take up with huge enthusiasm and positivity and I’m really looking forward to working cross-party.”

Labour Cllr Scott Arthur has called for whoever takes on the position to have “leadership experience” and a full “job description” to be available for transparency.

But Cllr Bird, who has a degree in social policy, and has worked for both MSP Ben Macpherson and MP Tommy Sheppard, has insisted she is more than capable of taking on the six-week role – with a warning “not to conflate youth with inexperience”.

Conservative group leader, Cllr Iain Whyte, said the decision would “raise some eyebrows”.

He added: “There is some consternation around City Chambers that the SNP seem to be choosing one of the least experienced people possible for a very senior role.

“These decisions are all being made behind closed doors – they have the whiff of something that’s been cobbled together by a rather disparate SNP and Labour groups rather than anything to do with leadership for the city.”

But Cllr McVey has given his colleague his full backing and support.

He said: “It’s important that we don’t miss a beat in driving forward the council’s agenda so I’m delighted that Cllr Ellie Bird will ensure we continue to make progress in key areas while I’m on adoption leave.

“Ellie has done a tremendous amount of work in the last two years at the council and brings a wealth of experience and energy that hopefully all councillors, regardless of party affiliation will value.”

The position set to come with a £39,310 pro rata allowance attached to it for the six weeks.

Cllr Melanie Main, co-convener of the Edinburgh Green group, said: ‘I’m very much looking forward to working with Cllr Ellie Bird, while Adam is on adoption leave.

“It’s great to have a woman in a leadership role in the council, and Ellie’s much respected by us all – she has considerable experience and lots of energy and I’m sure she’ll bring a fresh perspective.”