First-ever person of colour elected to lead council group

Wednesday May 1st 2024

Councillor Simita Kumar

Councillor Simita Kumar.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Donald Turvill

The first woman of colour to lead a political group in Edinburgh Council has said her election marks a “significant milestone toward equalities.”

Councillor Simita Kumar was voted into the SNP group’s top job at a meeting last night, becoming its first-ever female leader.

Speaking afterwards, she said she hoped to “inspire and pave the way for more diverse voices in our political landscape.”

The new chief of the City Chambers’ largest contingent of councillors said her opposition would hold the Labour administration accountable, criticising them for lacking “leadership and strategic vision.”

However, she added she was “also determined to work collegiately across all political parties on issues where our values and policies align.”

The 36-year-old was elected to the council in 2022 in Southside/Newington, and has since been the SNP’s fair work and economy spokesperson and then education spokesperson. Her background is in public health and social care and she has a Masters degree in health research.

In an internal ballot among the group’s 18 councillors, she was elected as leader, surpassing former transport convener Lesley Maccines, who, it is understood, was unanimously voted to retain her position as deputy leader.

Cllr Macinnes said: “Simita hit the ground running when she became a councillor and she will continue to bring that energy, thoughtfulness and leadership as leader of the SNP council group.

“She will have the full support of the SNP group and myself in helping to reinforce the SNP’s priorities for our city – poverty reduction, attaining net zero and reducing inequality.”

Outgoing group leader Adam Nols-McVey congratulated Cllr Kumar, saying: “She has made history with her election as the first woman to lead the SNP, the city’s largest party, and I’m excited to see how she drives us forward. She’ll have my steadfast support as she does.”

Cllr Kumar said: “It is an immense privilege and honour to earn the trust and confidence of my SNP colleagues as I assume the leadership of the largest party in the City of Edinburgh Council.

“I’m deeply grateful to have the opportunity to build upon a strong foundation laid by Cllr Nols-McVey and I extend my sincere appreciation for his dedicated service – not only to our group but for all Edinburgh residents. I would also like to pay tribute to Cllr Macinnes who is a friend and valued colleague and I look forward to working with her to take our team from strength to strength.

“I am fully committed to deliver the best possible outcomes for Edinburgh residents against the backdrop of a unionist administration of Labour, Tories and Liberal Democrats.

“The lack of leadership and strategic vision from Labour councillors is very concerning and the SNP group will hold this administration to account. However, I am also determined to work collegiately across all political parties on issues where our values and policies align.

“Today also marks a significant milestone toward equalities in our city, and I am humbled to be the first woman to lead the SNP group and the first person of colour to lead any group in Edinburgh. I hope to inspire and pave the way for more diverse voices in our political landscape.”

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