Edinburgh council: Lib Dem backing puts Labour in pole position to take control

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Labour looks set to take control of the city council after the Liberal Democrats announced they would back the party’s bid to form a minority administration.

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The Lib Dems said they would vote for Labour to take the key posts when the full council meets on Thursday. Labour will also need the support of the Tories to block the alternative of an SNP-Green coalition. But faced with that choice, the Tories are expected to opt for Labour rather than allow the SNP to take power.

The Lib Dems will get three “non-political” posts in return for their support – convener of planning, convener of the regulatory committee and chair of the licensing board. But these roles will sit outside the administration.

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And a Lib Dem source stressed that there was no further element to the deal. “We will continue to it as an independent opposition party. We’ve not committed to voting for any particular policies. What we have agreed is to give Labour a chance as a minority administration. We are not bound beyond Thursday. But they start with our best wishes – we want this administration to be a success.”

Meanwhile, Green party members in Edinburgh voted overwhelmingly to approve their party’s coalition agreement with the SNP. After a special branch meeting, Green co-convener Steve Burgess said: “Our members had a very healthy debate about the draft coalition agreement with the SNP and 97 per cent have backed it.”

The May 5 council elections left the SNP as the biggest party on the council with 19 seats, Labour has 13, the Lib Dems 12, Greens 10 and Tories nine.

Louise Young, chair of the Lib Dem group, said the doubling of the Lib Dems’ seats in the elections came on the back of a promise to fight for real change in Edinburgh council.

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Labour group leader Cammy DayLabour group leader Cammy Day
Labour group leader Cammy Day

“Labour councillors have told us they want to do things differently. They have been open in recognising some of the mistakes of the past five years and have promised to reach out and find consensus with other groups. It contrasted sharply with the SNP who failed to recognise that change is needed.”

The Tories were non-committal about their position. Group chairman Jason Rust said: "We are looking at a cross-party approach as to how we serve the city going forward under a fresh administration. We will work constructively with other parties to deliver the best for our capital city."

Before the Lib Dem announcement, the SNP issued an attack on the Lib Dems and the Tories, saying if they voted for a Labour administration “all three parties would be accountable and responsible for the choices and outcomes delivered by that administration”.

SNP group leader Adam McVey said: “If they unite to put Labour into power, the Tories and Lib Dems will be signing up to the Labour group’s agenda and will be accountable to the people of Edinburgh for what that administration delivers. This is especially true for any party that takes up paid administration positions.

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The full council will vote on the new administration on Thursday.The full council will vote on the new administration on Thursday.
The full council will vote on the new administration on Thursday.

“If we are forced into opposition by parties undermining the election outcome, we will use our weight in the chamber to hold all three parties to account for the actions of a Conservative and Liberal Democrat-supported administration, on their policies and on what they deliver for our residents.”

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