Fife Council: SNP claims council shutdown as leader goes on holiday

The war of words between SNP and Labour spilled over into the summer recess amid claims Fife Council had shutdown because its leader had gone on holiday.

Wednesday, 13th July 2022, 2:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th July 2022, 2:26 pm

A Facebook post by Councillor David Alexander, leader of the opposition SNP, claimed there had been “total inaction from politicians who received Special Responsibility Allowances taking no responsibility whatsoever.”

But his criticism of Councillor David Ross, Labour leader of the minority administration, was branded mean-spirited.

It’s the latest spat between the two parties which jointly ran the council until the May 5 elections.,

Councillors David Alexander and David Ross previously ran Fife Council as a joint administration

While the SNP emerged as the single biggest party - just four seats short of a majority - it failed to do a deal to take power, and found itself in opposition as Labour, with just 20 councillors was backed by Tory and Lib Dem members.

That has been the catalyst for a number of sharp exchanges in meetings held up to the summer recess.

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The next meeting of the full council isn’t until August, prompting Cllr Alexander to say: “The SNP, with 34 councillors, were prepared to hit the ground running.

“We were ready to take action with recovery and renewal the immediate priority following the worst of Covid.

“Instead, the threesome of the Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and Tories have chosen to treat the three months from the Local elections as a ‘break’ with no effective political decision making taking place till late August.”

His criticism of Cllr Ross being away for two months was branded “mean spirited” by Labour’s Altany Craik.

Labour’s finance and economy spokesman said: “David hasn’t seen his daughter and grandchildren for three years because of the pandemic. To focus on him is mean spirited.

“We are in regular contact with him, working remotely, and working as normal.

“The council never stops for summer. We are working with officers.”

Cllr Alexander’s social media post said Labour’s political leadership “have either disappeared or gone into hibernation” as he highlighted a number of issues which have been the subject of debate since the May election - including housing and bin collections as well as backlogs in several services.

He added: “Council staff are doing what they can but there is a total invisibility where political leadership is concerned.

"Are they saying they can't make a difference?”

In a statement, Lindsay Thomson, head of Fife Council’s legal and democratic service explained that councillors are not employees of the council and therefore none of the same arrangements for annual leave exist for them as they do for employees.

She explained: “Most councils have a recognised recess period over the summer which is broadly in line with school holidays. The programme of meetings to June 2023 was provided for the council’s consideration last month and dates for all committees are available on our website.”