Scottish council elections: The battles to win Scotland’s towns and cities
A quick look at the likely outcomes in this week’s council elections
Currently run by a minority SNP administration, the council has seen plenty of acrimony over the last few years. A Labour-Tory deal on this year’s budget usurped the SNP’s plans, imposing a 1 per cent budget cut. The SNP has come under fire after the Edinburgh government confirmed plans to build the new Beauly-Denny power line above ground. The SNP is confident, however, having launched its local government campaign here earlier this month.
Very open, but an SNP-Tory coalition could be a good bet.
The council is presently run by an SNP-Lib Dem coalition which dominates the other parties. Facing a new administration are controversial plans to create the new Union Terrace Gardens, pictured below, backed by local philanthropist Sir Ian Wood. Labour is sceptical. Relations between the SNP and the Lib Dems have beenstrained to breaking point in recent months, but have just about lasted the full term.
Impossible to say at present. The SNP is well placed to become the largest party. A coalition is extremely likely, but given the personality clashes and policy disagreements, it is hard to see exactly how it will be formed at present.
The much-maligned trams project forms the key context for the city’s election contest. The council is currently run by a Lib Dem-SNP coalition, with Labour offering strong opposition.
The Lib Dems are suffering post-coalition, so the election pits ex-Labour SNP councillor Steve Cardownie, tipped as a future council leader, up against Labour’s group leader Andrew Burns. The latter wants to remove power from council officials.
The fall of the Lib Dem vote will be crucial. A good bet is that the SNP and the Lib Dems swap positions, with the SNP becoming the largest party in a new coalition. However, Labour could surprise the pundits and beat both.
Initially a Labour-Lib Dem coalition, the council was then claimed by the SNP in 2009 following a by-election victory. It has now had to bear the brunt of the responsibility for the city’s controversial waterfront development work, pictured, which is set to drag on for another 20 years.
There is plenty of animus between the SNP and Labour on the council, following the fractious events of the past five years.
The SNP is heavily backed to be returned as the biggest party, although it would have to be a good day for it to achieve an overall majority in the city.
With Labour having recently lost its overall majority in Glasgow, after a series of defections, North Lanarkshire is now the only council in Scotland it controls on its own, with 39 councillors to the SNP’s 20.
Council leader Jim McCabe has focused on improving the state of schools and has ditched unpopular plans to charge motorists to park in town centres. But the SNP now says North Lanarkshire is a “key target”, and has launched a series of fierce attacks on the council management.
AN SNP victory here would be a huge achievement. A more realistic aim might be to deny Labour its majority.
The country’s largest local government area is based around Inverness, one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. The lack of affordable homes available is a major issue, as are transport links – particularly duelling the A9 to the Central Belt and the A96 to Aberdeen. A whole host of council veterans are retiring at the elections, paving the way for a host of fresh faces to take over. As in other parts of the country, the fate of the strong Lib Dem vote will be key, amid signs it is creaking thanks to the unpopularity of the coalition.
There is likely to be another coalition administration, but who will be prepared to share this role with – most likely – the SNP is debatable.