Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Labour warns against West Lothian Council coalition with Tories

Scottish Labour's Deputy leader Alex Rowley
Image caption Deputy leader Alex Rowley said the party's ruling body had also vetoed a deal with the Tories in West Lothian

Scottish Labour's ruling body has told councillors in West Lothian not to do a coalition deal with the Conservatives.

The move emerged after Labour councillors in Aberdeen were suspended from the party for going ahead with a plan to work with the Tories.

Scottish Labour's executive committee had ordered the councillors to stand down from the Aberdeen coalition.

Deputy leader Alex Rowley said the party's ruling body had also vetoed a deal with the Tories in West Lothian.

No decision on forming an administration was taken at a meeting of the full council on Thursday morning.

Largest group

However, Conservative councillor Tom Kerr was reappointed as Provost.

SNP group leader Peter Johnston said his party had been prepared to work with Labour in West Lothian.

"It is now clear that Labour prefer to sacrifice our services and our communities in return for Tory votes to put them jointly into control," he added.

Image copyright City of Edinbrugh Council
Image caption SNP councillor Frank Ross has been appointed as the Lord Provost in Edinburgh

The SNP is the largest group on the authority with 13 councillors. Labour has 12 councillors and the Conservatives seven.

Mr Rowley told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that Labour's Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) had rejected proposals for a coalition with the Conservatives on the council.

"There will be no deal with the Tories in West Lothian," he said.

Mr Rowley said Labour had been clear "no power-sharing arrangements would be agreed where it would mean increased austerity that will impact on communities, in particular the poorest communities up and down Scotland".

Lawrence Fitzpatrick, West Lothian Council labour group leader, said: "We've had a strong and secure minority Labour administration in West Lothian for the past five years.

"We will continue to work for a minority Labour administration in order to deliver our progressive manifesto for the people of West Lothian for the next five years."

'No deal'

He said the councillors in Aberdeen had broken those rules.

Their proposal for a coalition with the Tories in Aberdeen had also been rejected by the SEC.

The councillors were given a deadline to abandon the plans, and were suspended on Wednesday after deciding to go ahead with the agreement.

However, the city's new provost, Barney Crockett, told Good Morning Scotland he was confident of being reinstated to Scottish Labour "very soon".

At First Minister's Questions, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said Labour was in "meltdown".

Image copyright Fife Council
Image caption David Alexander (L) and David Ross (R) will equally share the leadership of Fife Council

She said Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale "is not in control of her own party because she can't stop her councillors going into coalition with Tories up and down the country".

Elsewhere, no agreement has been reached at City of Edinburgh Council, where a new administration will not now be formed for at least another week.

However, SNP councillor Frank Ross has been appointed as Lord Provost on the council, where the SNP are the largest party.

Fife Council will be run as a joint leadership, with power shared equally between SNP and Labour.

Local issues

The two parties said there would be a "spirit of collaboration and co-operation".

The SNP's David Alexander and Labour's David Ross will equally share the leadership of Fife Council.

They said they would "put our national differences to one side" to work together on local issues.

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