SNP and Greens strike Glasgow city council deal

·6-min read
Susan Aitken, the SNP group leader on Glasgow city council.   Photo Colin Mearns/The Herald
Susan Aitken, the SNP group leader on Glasgow city council. Photo Colin Mearns/The Herald

THE SNP and the Scottish Greens have struck a co-operation deal to work together in Glasgow city council, the Herald can reveal.

Green councillors will chair a new net zero and climate progress monitoring committee and a just transition working group, while both parties will work together on developing a joint strategic plan for Glasgow city council which they expect to complete this autumn or winter.

Greens will also chair the neighbourhoods, housing and public realm committee, and will have vice-chairs on the education, skills and early years and environment, sustainability and carbon reduction committees.

But the SNP will continue to run the council as a minority administration, statements from both parties added.

The new administration will be formally proposed and backed by both parties on Thursday at a full council meeting where the council leader, Lord Provost and committee conveners will also be appointed.

The arrangement does not bind the Greens in any votes beyond the appointment of an administration but leaves open the possibility of a stronger pact being formed between the parties.

SNP group leader Susan Aitken said: “Glaswegians face huge challenges in the years ahead, from the daily impact of the cost-of-living crisis on incomes and the longer-term effect of the pandemic and Brexit on communities through to ensuring a fair and just transition delivers for all Glaswegians and that our city is climate-ready.

“In a time of great uncertainty this agreement between the SNP and Greens can help provide the confident and responsible leadership this city and its people require.

“This is about doing politics and governance differently. It’s clear that the SNP and Greens have much common ground and have agreed in recent years on how best to meet major challenges affecting Glaswegians.

"And crucially, we share a willingness to collaborate to take the bold, urgent and progressive action which the immediate and future needs of Glaswegians demands.”

In a statement the SNP said the "agreement commits to constructive co-operation to deliver on shared and progressive priorities and aims to provide both the freshness of approach and surety of purpose required to help address the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, facilitate the city’s recovery from the pandemic and accelerate climate action".

The SNP and Green groups on the city council have worked closely on a number of key areas in recent years, most notably on joint budgets.

Both groups will continue to exist and meet as distinctive and separate parties with their own internal procedures and appointments.

The SNP statement added that in the weeks and months ahead, "the two groups will work together constructively to agree a Strategic Plan for the Council term 2022-2027".

The Strategic Plan will include aligned SNP and Green manifesto commitments, as well as additional commitments from each group. It is expected that the Strategic Plan will be finalised and agreed by full council in autumn/winter 2022.

In a statement the Scottish Greens said the party would pledge "climate action and council reform" through the working agreement with SNP.

The party said they "are confident that their increased role" within the city council will "lead to greater progress in tackling the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis".

It went on to say that the two groups also commit to delivering a "more open, inclusive and participative council, pledging to be more responsive to the needs of the people of Glasgow after the election left the council under no overall control".

Green group co-convenor, Councillor Martha Wardrop, said: “The recent election result clearly showed us that the people of Glasgow agreed with our vision for a more effective, more democratic and forward-looking council.

"With our largest ever group of Green councillors, we will hold a minority SNP administration to account while working collaboratively across party lines to deliver a fairer, greener and more inclusive Glasgow and to bring about the change that people voted for.”

Fellow Green group co-convenor, Councillor Jon Molyneux, said: “While other parties may want to rerun the arguments of years gone by, or debate national issues rather than local priorities, Greens will work with the people of Glasgow to ensure the council listens to those who we represent and delivers for our communities. We will work collaboratively over the coming months to deliver a new five-year plan for the council which delivers the progressive change people want to see.”

Negotiations began in the city chambers last week with Susan Aitken, Glasgow city council's SNP group leader, and senior SNP councillor Ricky Bell, in charge of negotiations for their party.

The May 5 poll saw the SNP re-elected as the largest party in Glasgow, winning 37 seats (down two on 2017), with Labour taking 36 (up five), the Greens ten (up three) and the Tories two (down six).

HeraldScotland:
HeraldScotland:

From left SNP Glasgow city councillor Chris Cunningham, with fellow Glasgow councillorss Jon Molyneux of the Scottish Greens and Ricky Bell of the SNP at the Glasgow count on May 6 this year. Photo Colin Mearns."

The co operation deal between the SNP and the Greens in Glasgow will not have to be approved by Greens' party members in the city.

This is because it does not bind the Greens in any votes beyond the appointment of an administration. However, should this situation change party members would be consulted on and a further and tighter deal would require the approval of Glasgow branch members.

Scottish Conservative Councillor Thomas Kerr, the group leader in Glasgow, was scathing about the deal.

He said: “An SNP-run council was bad enough for the people of Glasgow, but add the Greens into the equation and it’s a recipe for even more misery – especially for motorists.

“In their Glasgow manifesto, the Greens not only backed the introduction of the SNP’s hated workplace parking tax, they called for its extension ‘to include other non-residential parking spaces’.

“So people who rely on their car to get to work - including those on relatively low pay in hospitality - face being clobbered by another tax just for the privilege of doing their job.

“That’s the last thing hard-pressed Glaswegians need in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.

“We can also be sure that the city’s pothole plague will be ignored by the anti-car Greens and their fellow nationalists.”

Scottish Green members backed the Bute House agreement last August which saw co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater appointed junior ministers in Nicola Sturgeon's government.

It was the first time the party gained a position in government anywhere in the UK.

The Bute House agreement stopped short of a formal coalition as it allowed the parties to agree to disagree on certain policy areas, for instance whether an independent Scotland should be a Nato member. The SNP support membership while the Greens do not.

After the local elections on May 5, First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said she would be open to her party forming Holyrood-style deals on councils with the Scottish Greens, but added that any such arrangements would be left up to parties locally.

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