The Labour party, Liberal Democrats and Independent group will form South Lanarkshire Council’s administration for the next five years, in a coalition the SNP group dubbed a “unionist pact”.
At a full council meeting on Wednesday, the partnership agreement was voted in by 35 councillors compared with the SNP receiving just 28 votes.
Labour’s Joe Fagan is the new council leader while his party colleague Gerry Convery will act as his deputy.
Former council leader, SNP councillor John Ross called the agreement a “unionist pact”, pointing out that the SNP had won the highest vote share across the region, returning the highest number of councillors.
Ahead of the election this month, the Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar ruled out the prospect of his party entering into any formal coalitions in councils across the country.
Council leader Fagan said: “As the council will learn shortly, this new administration will be a new kind of administration, Labour-led but not Labour only.
“The basis of this administration will be a partnership agreement between the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups and an agreement to which the leader of the Independent group is also a party, an agreement that stops short of a full coalition but an agreement that is nonetheless a basis of joint working and a better local government.”
Mr Ross said: “I find it so disappointing that this council has been hijacked by a unionist pact operating on a constitutional level, when this should all have been about local politics and doing the best for the citizens of South Lanarkshire.”
Liberal Democrat leader, councillor Robert Brown, said: “In response to John, might I say there’s a need to recognise the realities of what the STV (Single Transferable Vote) system produces in local authorities in this regard which is not a majority council.
“It’s not a situation where one party has the absolute say, both Labour and Lib-Dems increased our representation in the council and it is entirely appropriate that we take the leadership for the next five years.”
Councillor Alex Allison, Conservative leader, said: “Our position is the same as it was five years ago, we will work with whoever to get the best for our constituents, we have voted in a nationalistic route, but I do not think we could have been seen as being credible if we did not vote in a unionist manner being the main unionist party. We will work for what is best for our constituents.”
However, in North Lanarkshire the SNP group’s fortunes have been different with it poised to take leadership of the council that has been held by Labour for 26 years.
The SNP has said that it would be willing to form a minority administration, but made clear that it will not negotiate with the Conservatives.