Time to talk

TALKS are under way to establish a new administration for East Renfrewshire.

Last term, an SNP/Labour coalition took control and a similar outcome may be likely.

Giffnock and Thornliebank councillor — and Labour group leader — Jim Fletcher told The Extra: “The relationship has worked well for five years and we have managed to keep constitutional issues seperate from our joint desire to improve local services.

“Both SNP and Labour have a centre left outlook and together in East Renfrewshire we have a track record of success.

“We are speaking with the Conservative group as well but I am unsure, given the perception of the two parties being at each others throats, how that would play locally.

“We differ on fairly major issues such as our desire for one major health centre for Eastwood; however we will speak with anybody and keep an open mind”.

Newly-elected Vincent Waters said he and his fellow SNP councillors were “very pleased with the substantial number of things that our party were able to deliver as part of the last coalition”.

He added: “However, we will have open and honest discussions with every other party. There are some things that are unshakeable from our manifesto — including a new health centre for Eastwood and a continuation of the council tax freeze.

“We don’t know what the final outcome will be and we are seeing coalitions pop up all over Scotland that wouldn’t have been dreamed of five or 10 years ago”.

New Conservative group leader Gordon Wallace, who replaces Newton Mearns south councillor Jim Swift, remains open-minded about who will form an administration.

Also a Giffnock/Thornliebank councillor, Mr Wallace told The Extra: “There are lots of negotiations going on.

“The election is behind us. We have to take account of what the electorate has decided and as a council, we have to address these issues. Everything is on the table and our manifesto is negotiable, otherwise, negotiations would be counter productive.

“We need to come to compromises. Politics is changing.

“Nothing is beyond the realms of possibility. At elections, parties have to find areas which differentiate them, but there is a lot of common ground. These negotiations at present are about finding the common ground”.

The parties will be forced to come to a decision by the first meeting of the new council on May 23.

Election results and reaction — see pages 4&5