Aberdeen City Council rejoins COSLA as council goes ahead with controversial coalition

Written by Jenni Davidson on 24 August 2017 in News

The decision to go ahead with a coalition with the Tories saw Scottish Labour councillors suspended by the party in May

Union Street, Aberdeen - Image credit: michimaya via Flickr

Aberdeen City Council has announced it is to rejoin COSLA after councillors approved a controversial coalition that saw its Labour group suspended by the party earlier this year.

The council has appointed co-leaders for the first time in its history, with power to be shared between the Scottish Conservatives, former Labour councillors and independents.

Previous council leader Jenny Laing and Conservative group leader Councillor Douglas Lumsden were appointed to be co-leaders of the local authority at a meeting of the full council yesterday.

Laing, along with the other Labour councillors in Aberdeen, was suspended by Scottish Labour in May after they defied the party leadership to form a coalition with the Tories.

The group now calls itself Aberdeen Labour.


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Laing, who has served as leader since the current administration was formed in May, said: “We made our intention clear from the outset to operate with co-leadership, reflecting the make-up of the administration, and we now have the approval of council to do so.

“I look forward to working with Councillor Lumsden as we lead Aberdeen City Council together, with ambitious plans for the months and years ahead.”

Lumsden said: “I’m pleased the steps required to introduce co-leadership have been approved and am proud to serve as co-leader of Aberdeen City Council.

“There are many challenges ahead for residents, businesses and other organisations in the city but Councillor Laing and I are optimistic about the future and will work hard to meet our shared objectives.”

The administration is made up of 11 Scottish Conservative and Unionist councillors, nine Aberdeen Labour councillors and three Independent Alliance Group councillors, led by Councillor Marie Boulton.

Following the coalition approval, Aberdeen City Council has also rejoined local government body COSLA - the last council in Scotland to do so.

Under the previous Labour leadership, Aberdeen City Council was one of four councils that left COSLA two and a half years ago.

It formed the rival Scottish Local Government Partnership in March 2015 along with Glasgow, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire councils.

COSLA president Councillor Alison Evison said: “The first thing to say is that I am absolutely delighted with the decision taken by Aberdeen City Council today. 

“It is my absolute pleasure to welcome them back into the organisation. 

“There is no doubt in my opinion that Scottish local government has more chance of success if COSLA has full 32 council membership. 

“That was always my aim and this has now been achieved with the decision taken by Aberdeen City Council this afternoon.

“This was rightly and properly a democratic decision for the council to take and it is wonderful that they have chosen to return to the COSLA fold.”

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