After a week of intense haggling over personal positions it was left to the Falkirk Herald to break the news that Falkirk Council was the latest local authority to see a coalition between New Labour and the Conservative Party.
The Falkirk Herald describes the pact as “Labour led” but this is a smokescreen to hide the fact the Tories are in an exceptionally strong bargaining position given the instruction from Labour HQ to do anything to keep the SNP out of power.
Now fears are being raised over the future of council services such as Refuse Collection. This service was to be tendered to the private sector just before the local elections but the SNP won a six month stay of execution but the service now becomes vulnerable to the Tory Privatisation agenda.
The Tories also fought the election on a policy of reducing the Council Tax and cutting essential council services.
Thee pact between the Tories and Labour comes at a time when hundreds if not thousands of Falkirk people are experiencing cuts in their benefits that are causing major hardship to some of the lowest paid families in the district. Labour’s surrender to the Tory agenda will be viewed by many as the latest betrayal by a party that ha lost its soul.
With the first meeting of the new council coming up on the 18th the people of Falkirk will get their first indication of the price extolled by the Tories and their colleague, Billy Buchanan. However, Friday will only give and indication of what the Tories have negotiated for themselves by way of positions within the Administration, the real cost to the people of Falkirk wont become evident for some time.
It didn’t have to be this way, the fact the SNP and Labour jointly run Edinburgh shows what can be achieved when Labour drop their fear and hatred of the SNP.
The fact the SNP outpolled Labour on May 3 meant the SNP had to be excluded from any genuinely open discussions regarding the governance of Falkirk Council.
The fear is that having secured a majority within the chamber we will now see changes in the council’s structures designed to exclude not only the party who received most votes in the election but also the two out of three Independent Councillors who refused to take the Labour whip.
The SNP have asked for talks with both the Labour and Conservative Parties on the future for Falkirk Council. These talks should go ahead irrespective of deals already agreed between Labour and the Tories because they are about an agenda that I more important than who wears the chain of office, they are about scrutiny, transparency and democracy itself.