Labour accused of ‘holding the Capital to ransom’

Edinburgh's Tory leader Iain Whyte
Edinburgh's Tory leader Iain Whyte
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COUNCILLORS in the Capital have agreed temporary arrangements to keep the authority ticking over until after the general election when the SNP and Labour are expected to go ahead with plans for a coalition.

The SNP abandoned attempts to form a minority administration after Labour, Greens and Liberal Democrats got together to block the move.

A full council meeting yesterday backed a motion from the three parties to delay appointing committee conveners while the chief executive draws up a revised committee structure.

But the motion also gave the go-ahead for key committees on planning and licensing to be appointed and said leaders of all five parties would be consulted by the chief executive on urgent decisions.

The SNP and Labour groups on the council have agreed a coalition but cannot go ahead until Labour’s Scottish executive approves it.

Tory group leader Iain Whyte accused Labour of “holding the city to ransom” by deliberately delaying any coalition deal with the SNP until after June 8.

He said: “It is the deal that shall not speak its name. The Labour party are far too afraid to make any decision on the deal because they’re worried about the general election and the prospects of their candidates in the city. That’s not the way to govern the city.”

Cllr Whyte argued that if no coalition could be formed, all parties had a right to a say in how the council went forward.

And he proposed a cross-party 13-member “executive committee” which would act as a cabinet, made up of four SNP, four Tory, two Labour, two Green and one Lib Dem councillors.

Labour group leader Cammy Day said he hoped by the next time the council met, there would be a coalition, but in the meantime the three-party motion was the best way forward.

Green group leader Steve Burgess said the Tory proposal has been “sprung” on the council at the last minute despite lengthy cross-party discussions the day before. “I question their motives,” he added.

Cllr Burgess continued: “It seems it will take time for settled arrangements for this council to be agreed. While I think this is regrettable I also recognise we are where we are and it is much better to make pragmatic arrangements for dealing with that over the next three to four weeks.”

Lib Dem councillor Kevin Lang said that had it not been for the general election a coalition would be in place by now.

“And I have a suspicion any blockages which currently exist will miraculously disappear shortly after 10pm on June 8.”

SNP group leader Adam McVey said it was clear most people had not voted for Tory policies. He said: “There are a lot of synergies among almost all the parties, but the Tories are an obvious stumbling block to that synergy.”

And he added: “We were putting ourselves forward as leaders in the interim, not just to govern the city on our own but to try and take forward as early as possible the things that people voted for.”

The council voted by 43 to 17 for the Labour-Green-Lib Dem proposals.