Fife Council: Labour bid to form minority administration as negotiations go to the wire

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Labour councillors are set to bid to form a minority administration to run Fife Council.

The party saw its number of seats drop from 24 to 20 at last week’s elections - but will table its bid for power when all councillors meet on Thursday to agree its new governance structure.

The move comes after Labour said there was “no basis” for an arrangement with the SNP to form a second successive joint administration.

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It is the first meeting since the elections, and, in the absence of a clear decision on who runs the local authority, it will be chaired by Steve Grimmond, chief executive, in his role as returning officer.

A deal has yet to be thrashed out to run Fife Council.A deal has yet to be thrashed out to run Fife Council.
A deal has yet to be thrashed out to run Fife Council.

The six-hour meeting will have to thrash out a number of appointments, including who will be Provost for the next five years, but the big issue remains who will take control.

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Talks between the parties have yet to deliver a resolution.

One said negotiations are set to “go to the wire.”

The SNP came agonisingly close to forming a majority administration when they took 34 seats - just four short of the benchmark to take outright control.

Labour have 20, while the Tories dropped down to eight, and Lib Dems’ gains took them to 13.

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The SNP have said they are open to working with any party - except the Tories.

But talks, which started almost as soon as the result was known on May 6, have yet to conclude.

The SNP could strike an agreement with the Lib Dems, leaving Labour in opposition unless they too work with the Lib Dems to form a minority administration.

Labour would then need need a deal with the Tories to create a three-headed majority administration.

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Councillor David Ross, leader of the Labour Group, said, “No single party achieved a majority at the election.

“We believe that a Labour minority administration that will listen and take account of the views of others, is the best way forward for Fife.”Seeking the support of other parties, he added: “We believe a Labour administration offers the most positive vision for Fife and the best prospect of standing up to the centralisation and cuts to council funding from the SNP Scottish Government.

“Whether we like it or not, the proportional representation system we work under means that if no party gains a majority of seats, then they have to seek support from others to form an administration.

“If we gain the support of a majority of councillors then we will form the administration. If not then we will go into opposition.”Cllr Ross said talks had taken place with all parties and there was “no basis for an arrangement with the SNP … so, we will simply be giving the Council a choice between a Labour or an SNP minority administration.”He said Labour’s own vote and share of the votes had gone up - despite losing several seats - and said the SNP, while the largest party, did not have a majority of councillors and only gained 36.9% of the vote.

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“They don’t represent a majority of voters,” he said. “It will be up to the whole Council to decide who is best fitted to form the next administration.”Labour will also be putting forward Jim Leishman to continue as Provost.