THE minority Labour administration running one Scottish council has been left in limbo after its leader went on holiday for two months – right after taking a significant pay rise.

David Ross, who used votes from the Tory and LibDem groups to install himself at the head of Fife Council despite Labour winning just 20 of the 75 seats, has left Scotland until August.

It comes just weeks after Ross saw his remuneration for his role as council leader increase by more than 75%, which increased his total salary by around 33%.

The Labour group chief was to earn a special responsibility allowance of around £14,600 on top of his £19,571 councillor salary due to his role as leader. After a council meeting in late May, this allowance was boosted to £26,098, meaning the Labour man now earns £45,669 a year.

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SNP group leader David Alexander said his party had not opposed the pay rise in May: “But now he’s not there!”

“All these councillors collect special responsibility allowances, and they’re not taking special responsibility for anything,” he told The National.

“I just find it absolutely and utterly incredible that when we’ve got the chance to make a difference to the renewal and recovery from Covid, he’s gone.

“Rather than trying to get things done for the people of Fife, he goes on holiday for two months. It’s bizarre.

“What’s annoying is the SNP in Fife had their best ever result in getting 34 councillors. Labour in Fife had its worst-ever result going down to 20 councillors.

“Now, there’s not going to be a real meeting of Fife Council to decide anything until August 25.”

The National:

Alexander (above) said his SNP group, which was locked out of power by Unionists despite being the largest party on the council, had been “prepared to hit the ground running”.

He added: “Instead, the threesome of the Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and Tories have chosen to treat the three months from the local elections as a ‘break’ with no effective political decision making taking place till late August.”

Ross’s absence means that Fife Council’s cabinet isn't scheduled to meet until August 25, despite the administration having been formed soon after the local elections on May 5.

Alexander added on a Facebook post: “Council staff are doing what they can but there is a total invisibility where political leadership is concerned. Are they saying they can't make a difference?”

Fife had been controlled by a joint SNP-Labour administration before the May vote, with Alexander and Ross working as co-leaders.

After the elections, Labour (20 councillors) leaned on the LibDems (13) and Tories (eight) to take control and lock the SNP’s 34 councillors out of power.

Thanks to the Tories’ votes, Ross was able to become sole leader of the local authority.

In return, the Labour group handed Tory chief Kathleen Leslie a top paid role scrutinising education, despite her having been struck off the teaching register after calling Nicola Sturgeon a “drooling hag”.

Referencing council appointments such as Leslie’s, Alexander said: “They voted 37 times together. Labour, LibDems, and Tories voted for each other on 37 occasions – and they say there’s not a deal!”

Head of Fife Council’s legal and democratic service Lindsay Thomson said that councillors are not employees of the council and therefore none of the same arrangements for annual leave exist.   

“Most councils have a recognised recess period over the summer which is broadly in line with school holidays. The programme of meetings to June 2023 was provided for the Council’s consideration last month and dates for all committees are available on our website.”  

She added: “The remuneration of councillors is regulated by the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004 and the salary that is to be paid to the Council Leader is set out in regulations made under the Act.

"For 2022-23 the salary for the Fife Council Leader is £45,669. Council was invited to agree that figure at its meeting in May 2022. The council’s new administration has one Council Leader. Previously Councillor Ross shared the council’s leadership role and remuneration.”   

Fife Labour declined to comment.