Edinburgh council coalition talks: 'A deal could take a while'

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Any coalition deal to form a new administration at the City Chambers could be some time away, one source has warned.

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The SNP emerged as Edinburgh's biggest party after last week's council elections. Its 19 seats along with Labour's 13 would produce an overall majority, which the two parties fell short of when they were in coalition over the past five years.

SNP group leader Adam McVey told the Evening News yesterday a deal with Labour was the best way forward and it is understood Labour group leader Cammy Day would be keen to renew the partnership.

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But Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has ruled out formal coalitions with other parties and the Labour council group in Edinburgh is also understood to be against a deal with the SNP. One Labour insider said: “There won’t be an SNP-Labour deal – Labour’s Scottish executive [which has to approve all deals] won’t have it.”

Meanwhile talks are taking place between the SNP and other parties, with the Greens the most obvious partners, though their combined strength would fall short of an overall majority.

But a Green source indicated coalition was not the only option and a looser co-operation or confidence and supply – where a smaller party agrees to back a larger one on key votes to keep them in power – were alternative models.

The source said conversations had not yet progressed to detailed policy discussions, which the Greens view as key to any agreement. And any deal would have to be approved by Edinburgh Green members. The source said: "I don't think a deal is imminent."

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Talks are taking place to put together a new administration at Edinburgh City ChambersTalks are taking place to put together a new administration at Edinburgh City Chambers
Talks are taking place to put together a new administration at Edinburgh City Chambers

A meeting of Labour's Edinburgh local government committee, made up of representatives of party members and trade unions as well as councillors, which was scheduled for Wednesday night was cancelled at the last minute because there was "nothing to report" on coalition negotiations.

The first meeting of the full council since the election is due to take place next Thursday to appoint the Lord Provost and the administration, but it can be postponed for a week. However, the appointment of the Lord Provost cannot be postponed beyond that.

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