Edinburgh Local Elections latest: Talks ongoing to strike council deal

Four candidates will be elected Kevin Lang(Scottish Liberal Democrats) and his sister   Louise Young (Scottish Liberal Democrats) celebrate with MSP Alex Cole Hamilton. Picture; Neil Hanna
Four candidates will be elected Kevin Lang(Scottish Liberal Democrats) and his sister Louise Young (Scottish Liberal Democrats) celebrate with MSP Alex Cole Hamilton. Picture; Neil Hanna
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TALKS between the parties on potential coalition deals to run the city council are continuing.

An SNP-Labour partnership is still looking the most likely – although it would still fall one short of an overall majority.

But talks have also been held between the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems about a potential power-sharing agreement.

After last week’s elections, the Nationalists now have 19 seats, two more than before; the Tories are just one behind on 18 – seven up; and Labour has 12 seats. down from 21; while the Greens have increased to eight and the Lib Dems to six.

All three of the biggest parties changed their leaders within hours of the election results being declared, but that was not expected to delay negotiations unduly. The City Chambers has been made available all weekend to the parties to allow the talks to take place.

After five years of coalition where Labour was in the lead and the SNP the junior partner, the two parties have experience of close co-operation and a range of shared projects and common commitments.

Frank Ross  is elected.  Picture  Neil Hanna

Frank Ross is elected. Picture Neil Hanna

Sources indicated new Labour leader Cammy Day was keen to have conversations with all parties, but sources said they would be “shocked” if Labour was willing to do any deal with the Tories.

An SNP-Green deal would fall well short of the numbers to form a majority administration and it is understood the Greens have indicated in any case they would not go further than a “confidence and supply” agreement to guarantee support in crucial votes.

There is the potential of a three-way pro-Union coalition with the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems, which could produce a majority. A Tory source said such a deal would offer the “most stable” administration and claimed it was “the most likely option”.

The source added that despite some obvious differences in policy there was a “surprising overlap” in manifesto proposals between the parties.

Ashley Graczy is elected.''' Picture;''' Neil Hanna

Ashley Graczy is elected.''' Picture;''' Neil Hanna

A Lib Dem insider said they had made clear they were not willing to go into partnership with any party whose first priority was independence, but the idea of taking part in a pro-Union coalition had not been ruled out at national level.

The insider pointed out Lib Dems had been in coalition in the Capital before and so were “not afraid of power” but were also “happy to sit it out”.

Any deal which the Lib Dem council group wanted to enter into would first be presented, for consultation, to a meeting of party members and the party has made provisional plans for such a meeting this weekend.

A deal proposed by the Labour group would have to go to the party’s Scottish executive committee for approval. It is due to meet on Sunday.

Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis

Edinburgh East SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said it was a historic achievement for the Nationalists to have become the biggest party in the Capital which was once a Tory bastion.

“Miss Jean Brodie will be turning in her grave,” he said.

“Some people got a bit over-excited in the past few years about Scotland being a Tory-free zone. There always have been and always will be Tories in Scotland.

“The Tories alone of all the parties did not fight these elections on local issues. Their message was all about stopping another referendum – they are obsessed with it.

“But they got 22 per cent of the vote. If they claim that as any kind of mandate they are delusional.”

SNP strategists had been hoping for around 23 seats. And Frank Ross, before he was replaced as SNP group leader by Adam McVey, acknowledged the final result was “not as good as we were anticipating”.

Donald Wilson is re-elected''' Neil Hanna

Donald Wilson is re-elected''' Neil Hanna

He said: “We have seen a national swing to the Conservatives, but we have withstood it here in Edinburgh. We have increased our number of councillors and in almost every single ward our vote has gone up.”

But in a day of dramatic twists and turns, some leading figures lost their seats including culture and leisure convener Richard Lewis, former SNP group leader Sandy Howat and Portobello/Craigmillar councillor Mike Bridgman.

In two wards where the number of councillors increased from three to four, the SNP took the bold step of putting up three councillors. In Sighthill/Gorgie the party failed to get a third councillor elected, but held on to the two seats it already had. However, in Craigentinny/Duddingston, where there had been an internal row about the selection of candidates, it was reduced to one seat, with planning vice-convener Alex Lunn failing to get re-elected.

The Tories gained seven seats, including the extra seat created in Pentland Hills, a seat in Portobello/Craigmillar, on taken from Labour in Sighthill/Gorgie and a second in Inverleith.

Their crop of new councillors include former Evening News editor John McLellan, who topped the poll in Craigentinny/Duddingston.

Labour’s losses included Karen Keil in Drumbrae/Gyle, whose seat was taken by the Tories, while David Walker in Portobello/Craigmillar and Nick Gardner in Leith Walk both fell victim to the SNP.

The party also lost former leader Andrew Burns’ seat in Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart to the Tories.

But Labour gained a seat from the SNP in Colinton/Fairmilehead and hung onto a seat in Morningside.

And former economic development leader Lezley Cameron made a comeback to the council after a gap of several years when she was elected in Liberton/Gilmerton. Labour said it looked as if it was doing what it needed to do to get Ian Murray returned in Edinburgh South at the general election next month.

Despite their increase in numbers, the Greens lost transport spokesman Nigel Bagshaw, who suffered a shock defeat in Inverleith where Labour also failed to hold the seat of former transport convener Lesley Hinds.

The Lib Dems’ gains came in Almond, the first result to be declared, where brother and sister Kevin Lang and Louise Young were both elected; Inverleith, where local activist Hal Osler got in; and Morningside where Neil Ross took a seat.

The party takes the result in Almond and the return of Lib Dem group leader Aldridge in Drumbrae/Gyle and new councillor Gillian Gloyer in Corstorphine/Murrayfield as a good sign for its hopes of winning Edinburgh West in the general election on June 8.

Edinburgh saw a good turnout despite fears the imminence of the general election might put people off going to vote.

Across the city as a whole, 50.5 per cent of voters took part in the election, compared with 42.6 per cent five years ago and 44.5 per cent in 1995, the previous time that local elections did not coincide with a Holyrood poll.

The turnouts in individual wards ranged from 39.8 per cent in Sighthill/Gorgie to 60.2 per cent in Colinton/Fairmilehead. It was the first council elections where 16 and 17 year-olds could vote.

Ward by ward breakdown

Almond: Graham Hutchison (Con), Kevin Lang (Lib Dem), Norrie Work (SNP) and Louise Young (Lib Dem).

Drum Brae/Gyle: Robert Aldridge (Lib Dem), Claire Bridgman (SNP) and Mark Brown (Con)

Forth: Eleanor Bird (SNP), Jim Campbell (Con), Cammy Day (Lab), George Gordon (SNP)

Corstorphine/Murrayfield: Scott Douglas (Con), Gillian Gloyer (Lib Dem), Frank Ross (SNP)

Colinton/Fairmilehead: Scott Arthur (Lab), Jason Rust (Con), Phil Doggart (Con)

Sighthill/Gorgie: Ashley Graczyk (Con), Denis Dixon (SNP), Cathy Fullerton (SNP), Donald Wilson (Lab)

Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart: Andrew Johnson (Con), David Key (SNP), Gavin Corbett (Green)

City Centre: Karen Doran (Lab), Claire Miller (Green), Jo Mowat (Con) and Alasdair Rankin (SNP)

Morningside: Nick Cook (Con), Melanie Main (Green), Neil Ross (Lib Dem) and Mandy Watt (Lab)

Leith: Chas Booth (Green). Adam McVey (SNP), Gordon John Munro (Lab)

Leith Walk: Marion Donaldson (Lab), Amy McNeese-Mechan (SNP), Susan Rae (Green), Lewis Ritchie (SNP)

Pentland Hills: Graeme Bruce (Con), Neil Gardiner (SNP), Ricky Henderson (Lab), Susan Webber (Con)

Southside/Newington result: Steve Burgess (Green), Alison Dickie (SNP), Ian Perry (Lab), Cameron Rose (Con)

Craigentinny/Duddingston: Ian Campbell (SNP), Joan Griffiths (Lab), John McLellan (Con), Alex Staniforth (Green)

Inverleith: Gavin Barrie (SNP), Max Mitchell (Con), Hal Osler (Lib Dem), Iain Whyte (Con)

Portobello/Craigmillar: Kate Campbell (SNP), Mary Campbell (Green), Maureen Child (Lab), Callum Laidlaw (Con)

Liberton/Gilmerton: Lezley Marion Cameron (Lab), Derek Howie (SNP), Lesley MacInnes (SNP), Stephanie Smith (Con)