NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Aberdeen City Council leaves Cosla for new body

Bins full of rubbish Image copyright PA
Image caption Local authorities deliver householder services, from bin collections to road maintenance

Aberdeen City Council has voted to quit the local government body Cosla to join a new rival group.

Three other councils are expected to follow after years of dissatisfaction with the local government organisation.

Glasgow, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire will join Aberdeen in a new Labour block of authorities, called the Scottish Local Government Partnership.

The Labour-led council in Aberdeen voted 23 to 14 in favour of leaving.

Leaders of the authority said it was a "rescue operation" to allow the city to negotiate a better funding deal from the Scottish government, but the SNP group described it as "leaping out of the frying pan into a bonfire".

Cosla acts on behalf of the councils when it comes to collective bargaining with government and other institutions.

How government money for councils is split is decided by Cosla.

Successive administrations in Aberdeen have argued that the city gets a poor deal in funding allocations from the Scottish government.

Aberdeen signalled its intention to leave last year, presenting Cosla with 12-months' notice.

Jenny Laing, leader of Aberdeen City Council, told BBC Scotland before the meeting: "We have felt for a long time that Aberdeen's voice was not being heard within Cosla.

"We've obviously got issues around our funding settlement, having been the lowest funded council in Scotland for some time.

"It is important for us, and me as a council leader, that we are getting that message across to Scottish government.

"We don't feel we can do that through Cosla and we are looking for other ways in which we can."

She will be the convener of the new four-council Labour block.

Fix from within

Ms Laing believes the move will give break-away local authorities a strong voice in negotiations.

She said: "I don't feel that Scottish government can prevent the four councils, which do represent 25% of the Scottish population, from being at that negotiating table.

"I would hope that they would see sense around that, they would understand that we need to be there, we need to have influence within that and I look forward to working with them on that basis."

Aberdeen City Council SNP councillor Graham Dickson had said the way to fix Cosla was from within.

He said: "What we will be losing is a great deal of expertise and a lot of other additional services that we get out of it.

"It is not a perfect organisation but it certainly is a lot better than we are going to do ourselves.

"This is going to cost us more money to leave. It is going to cost us money in terms of setting up new people to do jobs that already being done by other people.

"Overall I think Aberdeen is losing out from what really is just Labour having a knock-about with the Scottish government."

Cosla insisted it did not signal the end for its organisation and that the four were welcome to rejoin at any time.

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