Labour and the SNP locked horns over the Conservatives last week in the first council meeting since the recent local authority elections.
While discussing the Labour minority administration’s proposals for committee membership, SNP group leader Kelly Parry accused Labour of freezing her party out, despite the proposals offering an equal share of Labour, SNP and Conservatives councillors on most groups and committees, while a four Labour, three SNP, three Conservatives split was proposed for the Local Review Body and a four, three, two split for the Appeals Committee. And the Business Transformation Group number was increased from five to six to allow for a cross party equal split. Labour won last month’s election with seven seats, with the SNP on six and the Conservatives getting five.
Speaking at the meeting Cllr Parry said: “I think it’s really disappointing to see some of these very key committees the SNP have been pushed out of, that our group would bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to.
“We completely accept that the vote is democratic and accept the right of the Labour party to go forward with their plan, but I think it’s wholly undemocratic and I think people will be horrified that not only are you not looking to do a deal with the SNP and make sure there are no Tory policies in this council chamber, you are freezing us out of some of the most important committees.
“You are quite willing to put forward Conservative councillors that came in the door without a single local policy in their manifesto, and you are quite happy to give them power. That speaks volumes.
“The SNP group do want to work with everybody, we will work together as ward members, but working together and sharing a policy platform are two different things.
“It’s very clear that Better Together is back.”
Cllr Milligan (Lab) hit back, he said: “The reality here is that she wanted us to freeze out five members duly elected to this council.
“We intend to talk to both political parties and debate things in this chamber. It’s quite clear that the SNP are still distracted by the election on June 8 and they are not going to be interested in what’s happened here until they get past that day. We will deal with each issue individually as it arrives here and this group will be putting political difference behind them and doing what’s best for the people of Midlothian.”
Conservative group leader Pauline Winchester said: “We are looking for a stable Midlothian Council and looking to work across the council which is why we are supporting the Labour motions in this, we do not need any instability within the council any longer.”
Labour deputy group leader Jim Muihead said: “We have entered into no formal agreements on anything with anybody at this stage.
“The SNP are desperate to paint us as forming some sort kind of coalition with the Conservatives.
“Ample opportunity has been given to the SNP to put forward their proposals. They are looking to engineer a situation today where it looks like we are in coalition and nothing could be further from the truth.”