Edinburgh's most senior independent councillor to stand down at next year's elections
Edinburgh's most senior independent councillor has confirmed he plans to stand down at next year's council elections.
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Gavin Barrie, who was first elected to the council representing Inverleith for the SNP in 2012, served as economy convener and was tipped to become leader of the SNP group.
But he quit the party in April 2018 after he was ousted from his convenership and he later joined with two other former SNP councillors to set up the Edinburgh Party of Independent Councillors (EPIC) in a bid to have a bigger voice on the council.
But their efforts to secure committee places were frustrated when the SNP-Labour administration voted to exclude them.
Councillor Barrie said he had decided not to stand again in the council elections next May.
"It's almost impossible to get elected as an independent. Most people, regardless of what their thoughts are on how the council is run, vote looking at the party logo."
And he added: "The chances are there will be a similar administration and if they maintain their stance where independent councillors are not allowed to be on the committees that decide policy it makes and onerous job with very little satisfaction."
Fellow EPIC councillor Claire Bridgman, who was elected in Drum Brae/Gyle in 2017 and quit the SNP in July 2018 over the way the council group was run, said she would also be standing down next year.
The third EPIC councillor, Lewis Ritchie, who represents Leith Walk and served as planning convener but quit the SNP in February 2018 amid sexual harassment allegations, said he had not decided what he was doing.
Cllr Barrie, a retired firefighter and Fire Brigades Union official, became convener of the licensing sub-committee, in charge of licensing taxis, takeaways, parades and gala days, soon after joining the council in 2012.
When Steve Cardownie stepped down as SNP group leader in 2015 the plan was for the pair to do a "job swap" in which Cllr Barrie would become leader, but the group elected rival candidate Sandy Howat instead.
The following year Cllr Barrie became convener of the economy committee, later expanded to be housing and economy. But in March 2018 he was voted out of the job at the SNP group's annual general meeting and replaced by Kate Campbell.