THERE will be no coalition council in North Ayrshire despite the SNP offering to go into partnership with the ruling Labour group for a second time.

One year after Labour formed a minority administration following the North Ayrshire Council elections, the SNP renewed its offer to form a coalition but it was once again knocked back.

SNP Group Leader, Councillor Marie Burns, wrote to Labour leader Councillor Joe Cullinane, emphasising the importance of constructive cooperation and more appropriate reflection of the electoral result.

In her letter, Cllr Burns emphasised the importance of a stable and reliable administration, writing:

“Political uncertainty within the Council is not the best way to be dealing with major issues like the Ayrshire Growth Deal, Brexit and continuing Tory austerity to name but three of the major issues facing us at the moment. We also have major budget decisions to face which again would be best resolved through political certainty and coalition.

“With all of this in mind, I write to you to offer to enter into formal coalition with a view to harnessing all of our collective talents to pull together to work for the best outcomes for our communities throughout North Ayrshire.”

After the offer was rejected, Cllr Burns said: ““I am deeply disappointed that Joe Cullinane and the Labour Group have once again rejected the offer to work together in coalition.

“These are difficult times and as the Tories seem to be rushing headlong into a hard or no deal BREXIT it would be the right time to put aside our differences and work together for the good of ALL of the people of North Ayrshire.

“I know that most people cannot understand why it is that politicians, who in fact agree on many different issues, are incapable of putting aside their petty differences in order to work together. As a Group we in the SNP have sought to do this now on two separate occasions.

“Councillor Cullinane has told me that his group doesn’t support working with the SNP.

“I think this is playing petty party politics and I firmly believe we could achieve more by being grown up and working together.

“Labour have made it clear that they want to run the council alone and so, of course, we will continue to scrutinise their actions and hold them to account.”

Cllr Cullinane hit back at the SNP and said that they rejected talks with both the SNP and Conservatives because they ‘are imposing austerity on our communities’,

In a statement, he told the Herald: “Last year we rejected talks with the SNP and the Tories because both parties are imposing austerity on our communities.

“83% of the Councils revenue budget is now directly from the Scottish Government yet every year the SNP Group welcome budgets that leave the Council with multi-million pound funding gaps. In fact, since 2010 a whooping £83million has been removed from Council budgets. What lies behind that figure is services that have been slashed and council jobs that have been lost.

“The SNP Group again, to our surprise given last year they tried to spin that we were working with the Tories, asked for coalition talks and this year we asked them for assurances about how any coalition would respond to a Scottish Government budget that left a huge funding gap. The answer was that the Council would have to accept that budget but we, as Labour politicians, could publicly comment. That’s not anti-austerity, that’s managing austerity. Its weak and its exactly why we rejected a coalition last year.

“How can we, when see the levels of poverty, deprivation, unemployment, poor health in North Ayrshire, say that austerity is causing great harm across our communities and then what we are really doing is meekly implementing it with no opposition?

“Politics is about choices and our choice is to fight for what North Ayrshire deserves - jobs, investment and properly funded public services.

“If the choice the SNP Group want to make is to manage cuts then any future advances for a coalition will continue to be rejected.

“However, the SNP talk about stability for the Council and the people of North Ayrshire. That shouldn’t be a problem given that we gave the SNP Group the chance to say what policy the Labour administration have introduced that they oppose or want changed and the answer came back - none.”

Conservative Leader of North Ayrshire Council, Cllr Tom Marshall, said that he is shocked that the SNP want to team up with the pro-unionist Labour group and revealed that the SNP approached them after the 2017 elections.

He said: “It beggars belief that the SNP are so keen to join up with the ruling pro-Unionist Labour Group. What would Nicola say?

“It is unfortunate (or is it fortunate?) that the SNP has failed yet again to win a share of power in North Ayrshire Council.

Having effectively sacked their previous leader , Cllr Willie Gibson in 2016 they lost control of the Administration of NAC to Labour and have been bereft ever since of power and influence.

“The NAC Elections in May 2017 saw seven Conservative Councillors elected. Our Group was approached with a request from the SNP leader to seek some understanding with the Conservatives to enable the SNP to run the Council. The Conservatives refused support to the SNP since we could not endorse their Independence Agenda but said we would support policy proposals from any source that would benefit the people of North Ayrshire.

“The next attempt by the SNP to gain power and extra responsibility money was a few months ago when apparently they offered to support Labour in exchange for various chairmanships including allegedly the Deputy Provostship as well as places on the Executive held by other parties. This time they were rejected by Labour.”

“And now we have the latest and publicised attempt to form a coalition with Labour on the grounds of “political uncertainty” Sounds a bit desperate!

We quite understand why the Labour Party do not wish to become bedfellows with the SNP who have neglected the day job in favour of the pursuit of Independence. We will continue to support sensible policies of the Labour Administration and so offer stability and best value to North Ayrshire Council and the people of North Ayrshire.”