Wednesday May 18th 2022
The capital’s SNP and Green councillors have begun formal negotiations as they look to enter a minority administration to run The City of Edinburgh Council for the next five years.
It is the first breakthrough since talks between parties commenced at the City Chambers following the election almost two weeks ago.
After another SNP-Labour coalition in Edinburgh was officially ruled out last week, closing down the only remaining possibility of a two-party majority taking control of the council, discussions between the two pro-independence groups intensified in an attempt to find a way forward for the city.
But being three seats short of the 32 needed for a majority, there was initially reluctance by both the SNP and the Greens, who could risk defeat from opposition parties as they try to implement manifesto pledges.
The two sides are now set to begin policy discussions and agree on the finer details of the coalition agreement that will form the basis of the new political partnership.
However, it’s expected nothing will be finalised in time for this Thursday’s first full council meeting, with the appointment of councillors to committees, boards and confirmation of leader and depute leader of the council likely to be pushed back to another meeting on Thursday, May 26.
And any deal will not go ahead without support from the individual members of the Greens’ Edinburgh branch.
Edinburgh SNP group leader Adam McVey said: “I am happy to say the SNP Group has begun formal negotiations with Green colleagues with the aim to form a coalition. The election saw the SNP returned as by far the biggest party and there is broad support for the progressive ideas we have to take Edinburgh forward.
“The SNP and Green groups are having constructive discussions about how we can work together to implement the policies that we campaigned for and that our residents voted for. These meetings have been positive and focused on the further progress we can deliver for Edinburgh.
“We believe this coalition gives Edinburgh the best way forward to tackle climate, fight poverty and improve the core services we all depend on.
“The City deserves clear and strong Leadership and I am confident we can provide that. We look forward to continuing discussions with Green Councillors to explore how we can make sure the Capital has a fair and successful future.”
Co-convenor of the Green group on Edinburgh City Council Steve Burgess said: “After a week of discussions between Greens and other political parties, Green councillors want to work positively with SNP councillors to see if we are able to form a council administration.
“There is a good amount of similar policy in both our election manifestos that could result in a greener and fairer Edinburgh. There are also areas such as action on the climate emergency, transport, housing and equalities where Greens would like to see the council go much further. That’s what we are keen to talk with the SNP councillors about this week to see if we can reach agreement on a programme that will benefit the City.
“Any such agreement would also have to be approved by the individual members of the Edinburgh Greens.”
Meanwhile, Labour group leader Cammy Day said he’s still keen to explore the possibility of creating a cross-party coalition to “bring a rainbow of talent into the chamber” and deliver “a manifesto for the capital city”.
He said: “We’re continuing our discussions with other political parties to see what’s possible. I don’t think there’s a clear mandate from the electorate in Edinburgh for any one party to control the city.
“I think brining the talents of many to run the capital city would be better than just one party taking the main lead in that.”
Councillor Day said if Liberal Democrat and Green councillors were still willing to work with his group on an agreement he would be “more than happy to have that as a discussion”.
He added: “In terms of deciding who takes formal positions in the council at that point we would be open to having discussions with all parties.
“I think the last administration worked really well but the electorate’s given us a clearer signal this time that there’s no one party or two parties that have any overall control – so I think the electorate expect us to work more progressively together.”
A Labour source said that while favouring that outcome, they “don’t see it getting off the ground”.
A Lib Dem source added: “I can’t see how it’s anything other than an SNP-Green deal unless there’s a significant change in someone’s position somewhere.”Tweet Share on Facebook