LABOUR councillors have been accused of “sitting on their hands” to allow the SNP’s Frank Ross to be elected as the Capital’s new Lord Provost.
Cllr Ross was chosen by 26 votes to 24 at Thursday’s full council meeting, the first since the May 4 local elections which saw the SNP become the biggest party.
The SNP and Green councillors voted for Cllr Ross while the Tories and Lib Dems backed Robert Aldridge, the Lib Dem group leader and now the longest-serving councillor. Labour councillors abstained.
The Tories accused Labour of “propping up the SNP” and spurning the chance to support a unionist candidate for the role.
Tory group leader Iain Whyte said: “These actions from the council’s Labour group were shameful and will be a millstone around their necks for years to come.
“By sitting on their hands they willingly gave the SNP the keys to the city, and the Nationalists now control one of the most important roles in Edinburgh. I’m sure many Labour voters will be appalled at their actions when Labour are trying to claim that a vote for them can stop the SNP.”
The attack came as the city’s Labour group waits to hear from the party’s Scottish executive on its proposed coalition with the SNP. The executive, which must approve all local deals, asked for more information last week, but did not discuss the Edinburgh situation at its meeting on Thursday night.
At the full council, Tory councillor Cameron Rose tried to nominate Labour’s Lezley Cameron to be Lord Provost. But she told the council: “This has come as a complete surprise and I respectfully decline nomination.”
Cllr Ross, who will be First Citizen for the next five years, said it was a “great honour and privilege” to be appointed as Edinburgh’s 257th Lord Provost.
He said: “The diverse elements of civic life must have a voice in our council chamber and I’ll be working to ensure Edinburgh is as inclusive as possible.
“Drawing on my time as the city’s economy leader, I hope to ensure Edinburgh remains a thriving and successful capital city which celebrates its international ties. I look forward to showcasing Edinburgh as the unique destination it is.”
Cllr Ross, who represents Corstorphine/Murrayfield, has lived in the Capital since childhood. He went to Leith Academy Primary School, then George Watson’s and did business studies at Napier, later qualifying as an accountant and has worked for a succession of countries here and overseas.
A long-standing SNP member, he became more active after going self-employed in 2009. He was elected to the council in 2012 and served as economy convener and then SNP group leader until just after the elections.
He was plunged straight into his new duties. Within hours he had a meeting with a Chinese investor visiting the city. And tomorrow he will be attending the opening of the Church of Scotland General Assembly.