With the electorate returning 29 SNP, 24 Labour, 15 Conservatives, and 7 Lib Dem councillors, the Fife branch of the Scottish National Party has formally signed a power sharing agreement with Fife Labour. Over the next few articles we will be publishing the Power Sharing Agreement between the SNP and Labour.

This dismisses an earlier proposal from Fife Conservatives to share duties equally between all the parties based on the number of councillors returned from each party.

Fife Council, Power Sharing Agreement BETWEEN THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY AND THE SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY GROUPS of FIFE COUNCIL

Introduction

1.1      People in Fife have high expectations for the Kingdom and we will work to meet those expectations. Our focus will be on providing a sustainable, safer, cleaner, more equal and prosperous Fife.

1.2      We will put the interests of Fife first and will stand up for Fife and its people, promoting equality and recognising and respecting the rich diversity of Fife and its communities and citizens.

Power Sharing Agreement

2.1      To this end, the SNP and Labour Groups on Fife Council agree to establish a Power Sharing Agreement for the administration of Fife Council.

2.2      This Power Sharing Agreement will seek to ensure that debate and decision making within Fife Council puts the needs and priorities of Fife residents first, separate from national political issues, and further seeks to protect and enhance local services and the jobs of those who provide them.

2.3      The Groups participating in this Agreement commit to delivering on a Joint Programme for Administration based on their respective manifesto commitments as set out in Appendix 1. Where further issues or priorities emerge or circumstances change, revisions to this Programme will be agreed between the Groups in a manner consistent with the principles of this Agreement and will be reported to the Council.

2.4      We will seek to build an atmosphere of trust, respect, openness, transparency and fairness in the relationships between all councillors and political groups represented on the Council in order to work in the best interests of the people of Fife. The Partnership will always act in the best interests of Fife and its people in a cooperative, open and participatory manner, involving citizens, business, higher and further education, wider public organisations and the third sector. The Partnership will deliver effective and efficient services and amenities and ensure our Council is open, transparent and accessible for everyone in Fife.

2.5      It is acknowledged that Groups participating in this Power Sharing Agreement hold very different views on the issue of Scottish Independence and the Union and on some wider political issues.

2.6      Those supporting the Power Sharing Agreement have come together for the purpose of working for the citizens and communities of Fife and will avoid reference to the wider political debate around Scottish Independence or the Union while conducting Council business or while representing the Council.

2.7      The Groups and their Members will be free to conduct campaigning during elections or referendum campaigns, and to express views on government policy at a Scottish or Westminster level directly impacting on the Council and on Fife.

Principles

3.1      Members participating in the Power Sharing Agreement will always put the needs and priorities of Fife and its residents first:

  • We will work to reduce poverty, inequality and deprivation, to work towards a more sustainable society and for a more prosperous and equal Fife.
  • We will seek to work with employees and their representatives to resist the policies of austerity.
  • We are committed to protecting and enhancing local services.
  • We will seek to protect jobs by opposing compulsory redundancies.
  • We will work to ensure that local government is properly funded and accorded the place it deserves in civic society as an independent and democratically elected tier of government.
  • We will work with citizens and communities to priorities the best actions for their local area. We will put local people at the centre of our decisions.

Operation

4.1      Groups participating in the Power Sharing Agreement will have an equal status within the Agreement regardless of size and number of Members.

4.2      There will be two Co-Leaders of the Council with parity of status, one from each of the participating Groups.

4.3      Co-Leaders will chair the Policy and Co-ordination Committee either on a co-chairing or rotating basis.

4.4      Agenda planning for the Policy and Co-ordination Committee will be carried out jointly.

4.5      Co-Leaders will attend the Cosla Leaders Group meetings on a rotating basis.

4.6      Co-Leaders will chair meetings of the Fife Partnership on a co-chairing or rotating basis, or the Partnership will be chaired by an independent 3rd party Partnership member.

4.7      Co-Leaders will both have the right to attend any event or meeting to which the ‘Leader of the Council’ is invited.

4.8      Co-Leaders will jointly sign off press or official statements on behalf of the Council, unless delegation arrangements have been agreed.

4.9      Each Group will appoint a Depute Leader or substitute for the Co-Leader in their absence.

4.10    The Groups participating in this Agreement agree to the Governance Structure for Fife Council as set out in Appendix 2.

4.11    Posts of special responsibility will be agreed within the Power Sharing Agreement on an equal basis taking account of the skills and experience of Members.

4.12    Groups participating in the Power Sharing Agreement will seek to develop joint proposals for Council budgets, following open and transparent public consultation and consultation with Council staff, Trade Unions and the citizens of Fife.

4.13    The Co-Leaders and relevant committee conveners will be the administrations predominant spokespeople in relation to their respective portfolios. A depute will be appointed for each committee convenor to act as vice-convenor. The convenor and depute for each portfolio will be appointed on the basis of one from each of the participating Groups. They will work together in a manner similar to the Co-Leaders to deliver the Agreement, within their remit. Working arrangements for communication and management of business between the two Co-Leaders; within the wider Council political leadership team; and between the two participating political groups will be agreed.

4.14    Groups participating in the Power Sharing Agreement will work to ensure that Fife Council is an Elected Member led organisation.

4.15    Each Group will be responsible for ensuring that all individual members of their respective groups fulfil their roles and responsibilities, and support positions agreed through this Power Sharing Agreement, with recognition of the traditional rights of Members to express local views on specific local issues, while having regard to the Councillors Code of Conduct in relation to quasi-judicial matters.

4.16    The Groups participating in this Agreement will not seek to work with other political groups in the Council except as agreed jointly within the framework of this Agreement.

4.17    The Groups participating in this Agreement will work to engage constructively with the Council’s workforce through continuing dialogue with the Trades Unions.

4.18    Appointments to all Committees and external bodies on which the Council is represented at a Fife wide or Local level shall be made in proportion to the respective sizes of the Groups represented at the Council.

Resolution of Differences between Participating Groups

5.1      Where an agreed position cannot be reached through the regular working arrangements as agreed above, then a panel will be formed, comprising nominated senior group members of each Group to work together in good faith to resolve the matter.

Publicity and Press Arrangements

6.1      As noted above, Co-Leaders will jointly sign off press or statements on behalf of the Council, unless delegation arrangements have been agreed.

6.2      Further arrangements and delegations will be developed and agreed, based on the principles that statements or press releases issued on behalf of the Council will reflect the mutually agreed position between the Groups and of those holding special responsibilities within the Council structure and their deputies, who will be the principal spokespeople in relation to their respective portfolios.

Duration, Amendment and Termination

7.1      In the first instance, this Power Sharing Agreement will operate for one year, to be reviewed and either extended or terminated in May 2018.

7.2      Any amendment of this Agreement will only be made with the agreement of both participating Groups.

7.3      The Agreement can be terminated at any time by either participating Group, with appropriate notice in writing given, but both Groups will make every attempt to resolve any differences between them before any termination takes effect.

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