Equal power, equal roles - Fife leaders point towards a better way of working

Show of unity from co-leaders David Alexander and David Ross as power sharing agreement for Fife Council ratified.
Show of unity from co-leaders David Alexander and David Ross as power sharing agreement for Fife Council ratified.

The leaders of Fife’s two main parties have hailed their power sharing agreement to run the region’s Council as a “progressive step taken for the good of the whole of Fife”.

In a show of rare political unity among Fife’s Scottish Nationalists and their Labour counterparts, an agreement to jointly form a new administration to run Fife Council was overwhelmingly passed at today’s first full council meeting.

It comes after no one party secured an outright majority at the council elections two weeks ago.

The seven-page SNP / Labour motion detailing the structure of what is a political first for Fife, was approved by 58 votes to 11, also gaining the support of the seven Liberal Democrat councillors.

It left just the Conservative group to support its own alternative motion to allow all parties to have a say in how the council will run.

Addressing the packed chamber, with many new councillors there for the very first time, recently appointed Fife SNP leader, councillor David Alexander said the administration would be run equally and based on the shared principles within both the Nationalist, and Labour manifestos.

He added: “The negotiations were constructive and productive and we must accept that that is what Fife voted for.

“Neither group had a clear mandate to govern it’s only right that the two main parties come together in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation and that is what we have here today.

“The agreement lays out the shared aspirations and this agreement seeks to develop an atmosphere of trust, respect, openness, transparency and fairness with relationships between all councillors and political groups working for the best interests of the people of Fife.”

His opposite number and old adversary cllr David Ross told fellow councillors: “Neither are where we wanted to be, but following that result it is our responsibility to achieve the best outcome we can for the effective running of the council for the people of Fife.

“We have very different opinions on Scottish independence, a second referendum and on the performance of the Scottish Government, but we both recognise that we have an opportunity here to put our national differences to one side and work together on local issues for the real benefit of Fife

“We have spent five years at least arguing with each other and there has to be a better way of doing business in the form of this council.

And in a air of cordiality seldom seen at Fife House in recent years, there was even a time for a joke from both leaders, with Mr Alexander saying that his computer has indicated ‘has multiple issues’ when he searched the internet for information about the Fife labour group leader.

Meanwhile, in a nod to many previous fiery altercations between the pair, Mr Ross countered by calling for “the real David Ross to please stand up”.

Speaking afterwards the leaders agreed that if successful, Fife could could yet become the template for a progressive way of working for other Scottish councils.

Though both admitted that there were specific issues such as education that would have to have a renewed effort to work though.

In order to allow more time to draw up a new committee structure and procedure to take the joint agreement forward, it was agreed that the next council meeting, scheduled for May 25, be now put back until June 15.