SNP claim email is proof of formal alliance between Labour and Conservatives

The SNP Group at North Lanarkshire Council claims Labour are working formally with the Conservatives to set next year's budget.

Last year SNP councillors did not participate in the Sounding Board discussions as they refused to work with the Conservatives and one again are planning to present their own budget in February.

Council leader Jim Logue sent an email to Conservative’s group leader Meghan Gallacher and business manager Sandy Watson and Independent councillor Alan Beveridge.

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In it he states: “I have had an informal meeting with David Stocks who advised that it was extremely unlikely that the SNP Group would appoint any members to this Sounding Board.

“In the event of this my proposal would be four Labour, two Conservatives and one Independent. As you are aware the Sounding Board is not a decision-making group, with its main role to elicit information from officers in relation to a range of proposals and to bring such information back to respective groups.”

SNP business manager Allan Stubbs accused Councillor Logue of divulging details of a private conversation, and that this confirms a joint budget will be presented in North Lanarkshire.

He said: “Leaving aside the fact that Jim Logue has been caught divulging details of private conversations to his Tory allies, this is an embarrassing leak for someone who continually claims that there is no alliance between his party and the Tories.

“Last year a clumsy contribution from the Tory business manager at the budget meeting confirmed the budget had been drafted jointly between Labour and the Tories.

“This year, Jim Logue has given up on the pretence he isn’t working with the Tories. It’s no wonder Labour’s support in their historic heartlands continues to plummet.”

Councillor Logue hit back at the SNP claims stating that an all-party Sounding Board was recommended by Audit Scotland.

He said: “This is yet another pathetic attempt by the SNP in North Lanarkshire to play party political games at the expense of their own constituents’ services.

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“They were even criticised by their own Scottish Government’s agency, Audit Scotland for refusing to take part in the Sounding Board last year and as a result did not see any of their proposals passed as part of the budget in February.

“It has always been my belief that the budget process should include all political groups and I still hope the SNP Group will see sense and take their seats at the table.”

This was echoed by Councillor Gallacher, who said: “I call on Councillor Stocks and his Group to commit to this year’s Sounding Board and to put playground politics behind them. Time will tell if they are up to the task.”

The first meeting of the Sounding Board is expected to take place next week.