The SNP and Green groups in Edinburgh are “ready and willing” to form an administration to take control of the council, it has been claimed, after Labour officially ruled out entering a deal with nationalist councillors.
An SNP source said it was “disappointing” the Labour group are “refusing to engage or take power” but added talks with the Greens have been “positive”.
With some details still to be fleshed out between the two parties, who with a combined 29 seats would fall short of a majority by three, the source said it’s unlikely anything will be finalised in time for the first full council meeting of the new term on Thursday.
The source added: “We’re continuing to have discussions with the Greens and looking at the two parties who seem willing to take responsibility of administration.
“The Greens and SNP are ready and willing to stand up and lead the city and get policies moving, get committees moving. If no one else has a viable alternative then I think they have to let us get on with that even as a minority.
“The Greens have to speak to their membership so it’s just really about how we go through that formal process and make sure we can come to a formal agreement. We haven’t agreed but there is positive engagement towards that end.”
Following the local election this month, the SNP were returned as the largest party in Edinburgh with 19 seats, Labour won 13, the Lib Dems 12, Greens 10 whilst the Conservatives now have nine councillors.
After a week of initial negotiations, a renewed SNP/Labour coalition – which as the only two-party majority has been touted as the most stable outcome by some on both sides – was officially ruled out as Labour’s Scottish Committee (SEC) and leader Anas Sarwar held their positions to reject any council deals with the SNP.
However, it’s been speculated there could still be room for an informal agreement, after a leaked Labour memo revealed the party will allow “flexibility” in some cases, the Daily Record reported.
Despite the emergence of the note, written by Scottish Labour general secretary, James Kelly, on 5 May, those close to the talks have maintained any form of deal between SNP and Labour is now off the cards.
A source said: “They have been instructed by their national party not to do any formal or informal deals with the SNP. That seems a definitive outcome. They’re being told by their national party how to move forward and on what basis and who they can talk to and what the extent of those conversations can be.
“I think there’s people that see sense in that two-party majority situation, they recognise that’s how the city can move forward on a lot of things more effectively.”
by Donald Turvill Local Democracy Reporter
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.