Wednesday 23rd November 2022,
North Edinburgh Community News

SNP in bid to oust Tories from council jobs at full council meeting on Thursday

A political war is brewing at Edinburgh City Council over claims senior committee roles were handed out to Tory councillors as part of a ‘deal’ to secure Labour power in the Capital.

Edinburgh’s SNP group are now bidding to remove the Tories from their roles – and they are urging members of the Labour party to back them.

Council Leader Cammy Day says the SNP are playing “petty politics.”

The move was described as “petty politics” by Edinburgh’s Council Leader Cammy Day.

In May the Conservatives’ Joanna Mowat and Jason Rust were appointed as convener of the licensing sub-committee and vice-convener of the licensing board respectively – despite their party losing nine seats at the election.

Both roles come with an increase to the basic council salary – Cllr Mowat saw her salary increase by £17,128 as a result of the new role, while Cllr Rust saw his salary increase by £9789.

However, as Cllr Mowat’s new position had previously filled by the regulatory committee chair and Cllr Rust’s vice convener role was newly-created, SNP group leader Adam McVey accused Labour of “gerrymandering” jobs to secure votes from the Conservatives and Lib Dems.

The three parties supported Labour forming a minority administration,  defeating proposals for an SNP-Green coalition to take control of the council and sparking allegations of ‘dodgy deals’ being done behind closed doors.

A motion being tabled by the SNP at a full council meeting on Thursday (November 24) will call for the Tories’ to be removed from the roles which they argue are “unnecessary to the function of council business” and should be dissolved.

Edinburgh council is facing a £76 million black hole in its budget, while residents are fearing the worst winter in living memory as household face both a cost of living crisis and soaring energy costs.

And while some might say those issues should perhaps see this kind of political squabbling put to one side, SNP leader Adam McVey said the issue was an important one as it went to the heart of leadership in the Capital.

Cllr McVey said: “We think it’s really important that councillors make a decision about who leads our city – these are important functions of whether short-term let licences are approved and a whole host of other things. 

“But fundamentally these are jobs that were given to Conservatives to keep them in an administration. We don’t think that’s what the people of Edinburgh voted for and it’s for other parties to decide otherwise. 

“This is a transaction where the Tories are slavishly supporting everything Labour say in return for some roles within their administration. I understand they’ve come to a deal, I understand they are in the administration but what we are saying very clearly is we don’t think that’s what the people of Edinburgh voted for.”

Asked if he is confident a majority of the City Chambers’ 63 councillors will back the motion, he said: “I don’t know whether we’re going to win. We’ll be having conversations with councillors right across the spectrum.

“We’re asking everyone right across the chamber – particularly in the Labour party – to do the right things and remove the Tories from administration.”

Council leader Cammy Day, Labour, described the move as “petty politics,” adding it was “not worth a comment”.

And Conservative group leader Iain Whyte questioned the competency of the motion being put forward next week.

He said: “Council appointments were made in June which is less than six months ago and are made as a block for a year at an AGM.

“I think it’s highly disrespectful to two individuals who as far as I know are doing a good job and I haven’t heard of anybody criticising the work they’re doing in what are effectively quasi-judicial and non-political roles.

Councillor Iain Whyte.

“What goes around comes around in politics, I recall if you go back far enough to the district council the SNP won two seats and gained the Lord Provostship and held the balance of power to help put Labour into a majority.

“The SNP under Steve Cardownie did a deal with the Lib Dems and ran the council when they were a much smaller party – the nature of our politics is such that people have to do deals, but apart from anything else there is no coalition.

“Two of my colleagues and some Lib Dems are in quasi-judicial positions running committees – that is all.”

Donald Turvill is the Local Democracy Reporter covering Edinburgh. The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency funded by the BBC, provided by the local news sector, and used by qualifying partners. Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.

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