SNP fury at 'political chicanery' as Labour secures minority control of Fife Council

Labour will run Fife Council as a minority administration for the next five years - with the backing of the Lib Dems and Tories.

Thursday, 19th May 2022, 2:31 pm

And that deal pushes the SNP, the single biggest party within the local authority, into opposition.

The result was sealed at today’s meeting of the full council - the first since last week’s election result - and it sparked outrage from the Nationalists who branded it “political chicanery on an embarrassing scale.”

But Councillor David Ross, who is the new council leader, said it was the best outcome for the people of Fife.

Fife House, HQ of Fife Council

Labour’s won just 20 of the 75 seats up for grabs - down four from 2017 - while the SNP claimed 34, just four short of an outright majority.

With the backing of the 13 Lib Dems and eight Tories, however, they were able to sidelined the Nationalists.

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Labour previously ran a joint administration with the SNP, but that, said Mr Ross, was no longer viable.

Councillor David Ross, new leader of Fife Council

Mr Ross said: “We cannot support a party whose government is seeking to destroy local government and won;t stand up to that threat of centralisation.

“We will stand up for what is in the best interest of Fife and Fife Council.”

Labour is now set to launch a new style of local governance with the creation of an executive cabinet.

The all-party group will feature nine SNP councillors, seven Labour, four Lib Dems and two Tories.

But there was real anger among SNP councillors as they saw their hopes of controlling the council recede - and they branded Labour’s election result as the worst in the party’s history.

Councillor Alexander said: “It was possible to do deal with Labour five years ago - not now.

The only thing that has changed is Holyrood politics. Should Fife Council be directed by some Holyrood leaders only interested in national politics when this was a local election?

“I understand stopping the rise of the SNP nationally, but trampling over Fife democracy is another.”

And the SNP leader hit out: “Doing whatever is required to hold on to power is an affront to the public and councillors

“Anyone voting for this gerrymandering mish mash will regret it - and will suffer from it.”

Strong criticism also came from John Beare, SNP councillor for Glenrothes North, Leslie and Markinch.

He said: “I’ve seen some shameful and anti-democratic shenanigans in this chamber in my 16 years - but this is the worst stitch-up I’ve ever seen.

“Those who support it and those who enable it should hang their heads in shame.”

Support came from Councillor Johnny Tepp, group leader of the Lib Dems.

He said: “We were impressed by the Labour group’s commitment to change the way the council operates including strengthening accountability and scrutiny.”