Deal between parties unlikely
SNP head up minority administration
The SNP look set to lead a minority administration at South Lanarkshire Council.
The party became the biggest group in the region for the first time but fell six seats short of an overall majority.
New group leader John Ross has contacted Labour and the Liberal Democrats to discuss a coalition, but both parties have said there would be no deal.
A special meeting will be held on May 12 with May 24 the deadline for forming and electing a new administration.
The SNP won 27 seats with Labour winning 21. The Conservatives claimed 14, the Liberal Democrats took one and one independent was elected.
Councillor Ross, who is likely to be the next council leader, admitted the elation of securing the most seats was tinged with disappointment they could not gain an overall majority.
The Hamilton South representative said: “We feel we have a progressive manifesto to improve the lives of everyone in South Lanarkshire.
“But it is important parties work together and it is important for the people of South Lanarkshire to get things up and running as quickly as possible.
“We contacted Labour, the Liberal Democrat and independent asking if they would like to join us if they were like-minded.
“Friday was fabulous and it would have been even better if we had secured the extra seats needed for a majority and we wouldn’t be in this position.
“Nevertheless, we want to make the council more open and transparent and not have so many meetings behind closed doors.”
However, he admitted challenges lie ahead, especially the strain on public finances.
“We will face as many constraints as the previous administration but we need to look at how the finances have been handled up until now and we need to see exactly what the finances are before we can see how good or bad a position South Lanarkshire is in,” said Mr Ross.
“We also want to make sure no part of South Lanarkshire or community feels they aren’t being included. There is, at the moment, a disconnect between what happens at the HQ in Hamilton and local communities. We aim to be an inclusive body.”
A defiant Labour group leader, Gerry Convery, said: “We aren’t doing any deals with anyone.
“We will look at every issue on its own merits and vote accordingly on that basis.
“With both councillors previously elected and new councillors we feel honoured and privileged to serve the people of South Lanarkshire.
“Our main priority will be delivering services for the people of South Lanarkshire and that is of great importance to every Labour councillor elected.”
Rutherglen South Liberal Democrat Robert Brown, said a deal was “unlikely.”
He added: “I feel the proper place for the Liberal Democrats on this council is likely to be in the opposition, holding the council administration to account and standing up for the interests of the people of Rutherglen.”
Ready to go Councillor John Ross gives the thumbs up with his SNP colleagues, but they will be forming a minority administration at council HQ in Almada Street, Hamilton