Labour take control of Edinburgh Council

Thursday May 26th 2022


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Donald Turvill

Labour have taken control of Edinburgh council and will lead the city as a minority administration for the next five years.

Councillors voted 32 votes to 29 in favour of the group taking control of the local authority, as proposals were backed unanimously by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives at a full council meeting today.

However, not all on the Labour benches were in support of their party seizing power in the capital as two members abstained from voting.

Labour group leader Cammy Day, who will now take on the role of leader of the council, in a promotion from his previous job as depute leader, insisted his new administration ‘has no deal with any party and no coalition’ – a comment that was met with laughter from SNP and Green councillors in the Chamber.

Cllr Day added: “We will be a Labour group that stands up to Governments that do not support our capital city and work with those who support progressive policies for our city and I do hope we can have a new arrangement of cross-party politics.”

But SNP group leader on Edinburgh Council Adam McVey said the agreement voted through is a Labour-Lib Dem-Tory coalition – and any pretence that this is not the case is “an insult to voters’ intelligence”.

During the meeting, he reached out to Labour councillors to vote for the proposed minority SNP-Green coalition, saying ‘even now, it’s not too late’.

Afterwards, he added: “The people of Edinburgh could be forgiven for expecting nothing more from this Labour-Tory-Lib Dem coalition than instability, indecision and inaction in the face of dramatic challenges facing our capital city.

“Even some of Labour’s own councillors can’t stomach the backroom deal their party is happily making with the Tories.”

Edinburgh Greens co-convenor Claire Miller said: “I’m disappointed that the Green-SNP programme for the council has not gone ahead as we had a clear vision with strong commitments particularly on housing, transport, equality and the climate emergency. But Green councillors will still seek to work constructively with councillors from all parties on these priorities.”

Applause came from the SNP and Green benches as two Labour councillors – Katrina Faccenda and Ross McKenzie – refused to support their party’s amendment .

Tory leader Iain Whyte said the group’s decision to throw their support behind Labour “took us some time and some thinking”.

He added: “There are areas where we disagree with the Labour party, but let me say this: there is a need for us to work together in this chamber in a way that hasn’t been seen for the last five years. And I’ve seen an approach from across some parties and a wish to do that.

“There’s an approach from the SNP in particular and some of their friends in the Greens that smacks of entitlement – entitlement to roles and to rule.

“We will push where we can to have what we wish implemented.”

Attacking the plans tabled by the SNP and Green groups, he described their coalition document as “an uncosted, undeliverable wish list of student politics and virtue signalling”.

Councillor Kevin Lang, Lib Dems said: “Today, the Liberal Democrats voted for change in our city. Labour have now been given a chance to lead in a minority administration. Where we agree with Labour councillors, we will vote with them. Where we disagree, we will say so and vote accordingly.

“I congratulate Cammy Day on his appointment as Council Leader. A key priority must be to argue strongly for proper funding for the city and against the savage SNP and Green cuts which risk the services our citizens depend on.”

The Lib Dem group also saw their leader Robert Aldridge appointed as the city’s new Lord Provost uncontested with support from all sides of the Chamber.

Cllr Aldridge said following his election to the role of civic leader: “I’d like to thank all of you in the chamber for putting your trust in me and giving me this enormous privilege and honour of being Lord Provost of the best capital city in the world and I promise that I shall to by very utmost to live up to the expectation and the trust you’ve placed in me.”

Furthermore, Labour’s Lezley Marion Cameron will serve as the new Depute Lord Provost after beating the Greens’ Susan Rae to the position by five votes.

And the final vote of the day saw Stephen Jenkinson, Labour, appointed to the board of NHS Lothian.

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