Labor have taken control of Stirling Council after the party’s Chris Kane was elected leader at a council meeting yesterday (Thursday).
The first full meeting of the local authority following the recent elections saw the early signs of the new Labor minority administration taking shape, with the Stirling East councilor being backed by a majority vote.
Veteran Labor councilor Margaret Brisley was elected as the council’s new deputy leader.
Meanwhile, the Conservative councilor for Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, Douglas Dodds, has been chosen as Stirling’s new provost. He was appointed after securing 13 votes in favor of the move, coming from the seven Tory and six Labor councillors. There were nine votes against, from the eight SNP members and independent councilor Alasdair Macpherson, with Green councilor Alasdair Tollemache abstaining.
After taking the chain of office, the new Provost said he appreciated it may not be a “popular choice” with some but that he hoped to as good a job as any of his predecessors. During later debate he warned that proceedings should be conducted in a “civil manner”, adding: “We are here to represent the constituents of Stirling.”
On Wednesday, we told how the council looked set to be heading for a Labor minority administration after the party gained backing from the Tories.
The previous council administration was SNP/Labour but Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar made clear that no such partnerships would be repeated following the recent election.
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Councilor Kane insisted that, while following talks the Conservatives appeared to have agreed to side with Labor to get them over the line, the negotiations had not strayed into policy decisions and that he had reached out to all parties.
But furious local SNP representatives branded Labour’s agreement with the Conservatives as a “betrayal of Labor voters”.
At yesterday’s meeting, Labor and Tory councilors pushed through appointments to a number of committees and panels. Councilor Kane said this was vital to allow the business of the council to get underway, while pleading that an amended scheme of delegation would be presented to the council in October. The SNP now have five days to name which of their councilors will take their allocated seats.
Labor councilors will take both the convener and vice convener roles in the four main committees – Margaret Brisley and Chris Kane on finance and economy; new councilors Gerry McGarvey and Ewan Dillon on community planning and regeneration; Danny Gibson and Ewan Dillon on children and young people; and environment and housing will be chaired by new councilor Jen Preston, with vice convener Councilor Gibson.
Stirling SNP group leader Scott Farmer said: “Voters and supporters will be appalled at this shocking move by Stirling Labour.
“Despite a track record of working together for our communities, Labor have chosen to shun a progressive partnership with the SNP and have instead pursued a weak and unstable minority administration with backing from the Tories.
“The SNP have emerged as the largest local party, winning the most seats and overall votes – yet Labor are willing to ignore that reality and message from the electorate.’
“Voters didn’t expect a vote for Labor was a vote for a Tory Provost, and will be disgusted to see their support for progressive, inclusive policies instead used as collateral in a grubby deal with the Tories “The people of Stirling expect stability and delivery in these desperate times – and they’ll see the exact opposite from this Better Together stitch-up.”
Councilor Kane said later he was “disappointed but not surprised” but some of the political reaction.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.