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Daily Record
Daily Record
Judith Tonner

North Lanarkshire: Call for last-minute coalition talks over council control

The SNP group on North Lanarkshire Council says Labour members still have an opportunity to “do the right thing” by entering coalition discussions with the largest party ahead of tomorrow’s crucial meeting.

Neither achieved the 39 seats needed to reach a majority in the recent local government election, with the SNP winning 36 and Labour 32 – and with initial talks between the two leaders stalling at an early stage, both groups have announced that they plan to form minority administrations.

SNP leader Jordan Linden has now written again to Labour counterpart Jim Logue inviting discussions between the two major parties, ahead of a knife-edge vote over control of the council which could be decided by a single vote or deck of cards.

Bellshill representative Councillor Linden insists that “there is still time for a deal to be done” to avoid the lottery prospect to decide on North Lanarkshire’s provost, deputy and both leaders – a possibility in the event of a 38-38 voting stalemate and which he calls “irresponsible”.

He said: “I have written again to the leader of the Labour group to call for negotiations, and I would urge Labour councillors to do the right thing and come to the negotiating table ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

“Cutting cards to decide positions will lead to chaos within the council and be a complete dereliction of our responsibilities as representatives of the people of North Lanarkshire.

“We were all elected, regardless of party, to represent the needs of our constituents and it is incumbent on all of us to do that for the 350,000 residents and 12,500 employees of North Lanarkshire Council.

“I am clear that the only thing not on the table for negotiation is any deal with the Tories – so let’s work together across the council and freeze out the Tories and British Unionist Party before it’s too late.”

Lanarkshire Live has contacted Councillor Logue and the Labour group for comment.

A statement from North Lanarkshire Labour reads: “As in 2017, the Labour group will seek to form a minority administration to build on our impressive track record in housing, education, sector-leading anti-poverty initiatives and fighting unacceptable government cuts.

“It is not our intention to enter into coalition with any party, nor have we sought to do so in the days since the election. We will ask all 77 members to support our Labour minority administration.”

The 36-strong SNP group are set to have the backing of Green councillor Claire Williams and independent Robert McKendrick; while Labour are likely to be supported by the five Conservatives and the vote of British Unionist councillor John Jo Leckie would match their rivals’ 38.

North Lanarkshire’s Green party branch formally announced its position this week, saying: “Communities across North Lanarkshire voted for change, not an administration that relies on the support of the regressive politics shared by the Conservative and British Unionist Parties.

“In accordance with our green principles of local democracy, in the absence of cooperation between the SNP and Labour and in an attempt to stop the formation of an unstable and chaotic council, we will vote in favour of the SNP motion to form an administration.”

Murdostoun independent representative Robert McKendrick outlined his view, saying: “I will not support any administration that involves the Tory party.”

Councillor Linden said that after initial talks between the party leaders and consultation with their members, “there was no appetite from the Labour group for a deal or co-operation, formal or informal, and it ended there.

“We reached out to other political parties – with the exception of the Tories and BUP because of the gulf in agenda – believing there’s more that unites us than divides us on big challenges like town centre plans and economic regeneration and to talk about the potential to work together.

“Everything was on the table and all that’s stopped that is political differences. Our intention is to form the administration and that’s the motion that will be put to councillors; it’s our right as winners of the election.”

And did you know Lanarkshire Live had its own app? Download yours for free here.

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