A SECOND Labour authority leader has called on Westminster to intervene in a row over the council tax freeze in what has been described as a “full blown crisis” for Anas Sarwar.

We told yesterday how Inverclyde council leader Stephen McCabe wrote to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove demanding that he fund local authorities directly.

This prompted fury from Alba who said McCabe was advocating for “direct rule” and urged Sarwar to distance himself from the remarks, but Scottish Labour declined to say if he supported the Inverclyde councillor’s position or not. 

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The SNP said Sarwar must confirm whether or not he supports the call from senior Labour councillors and what action he will take against them if he does not. 

And now, West Dunbartonshire Labour council leader Martin Rooney is also understood to have written to Gove urging Tory ministers to step in.

In a letter, Rooney is reported to have said: “I am seeking your urgent intervention to ensure that all councils [in] Scotland receive a share of this additional funding, should it be allocated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.”

Previously, McCabe had also called on Gove to stage an “urgent intervention”. 

Rooney also copied the letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Scottish Secretary Alister Jack. 

The National:

It comes after Deputy First Minister Shona Robison (above) offered £147m in funding to keep council tax at current levels, with an additional £45m incoming from the UK Government’s Budget in the coming weeks.

Argyll and Bute Council has pushed ahead with a 10% increase in council tax, and Inverclyde followed suit on Thursday with an 8.2% rise.

West Dunbartonshire are still to hold a full council meeting to decide the way forward, however, the majority of Scottish local authorities have so far accepted the freeze, with others to decide in the coming weeks. 

Alba’s general secretary Chris McEleny previously accused Scottish Labour of advocating for “direct rule” from Westminster and urged Sarwar again to distance himself from his local authority leaders in the wake of Rooney’s comments.

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“Anas Sarwar remained silent yesterday hoping nobody would notice one Labour Council effectively calling for the devolution settlement to be ripped up but today we have more Labour councils joining this call,” he said. 

“This is now a full blown crisis for Scottish Labour. Anas Sarwar must urgently distance himself from these proposals and confirm that he believes it is for the Scottish Parliament to determine how Barnett Consequentials are allocated – not Michael Gove, not the UK Chancellor or anyone at Westminster.”

Stuart McMillan, MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, said: "Anas Sarwar must urgently confirm whether he supports his councillors undermining Scottish local government and the Scottish Parliament and, if not, what action he will take against them.
"Instead of working with the SNP to stand up to Westminster and ensure more funding comes to Scotland, Scottish Labour have decided to cosy up to the same Tories that have decimated funding for public services across the UK.
“Scottish Labour wanting to hand control of Scottish local government over to the Tories all so they can hike council tax bills confirms that the SNP is the only party that will always stand up for hard working households in Scotland.”

Previously, The National asked if Sarwar supported McCabe’s position and believed that Westminster should intervene in the council tax row.

In response, a Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “The solution to the situation facing Scotland’s councils is for the SNP to end 17 years of cuts and fund local government properly.”

Rooney has been contacted for comment.