LABOUR have taken “no action” to tackle the cost of living on a council run by the party nearly 100 days after taking office, it has been claimed.

Fife Council, which was left in limbo after its leader David Ross went on holiday for two months after taking office, held only one meeting in the entire month of July and has held just 13 committee meetings since the administration was formed.

The only one held in July, when the council was in recess, was a meeting of the health and social care integrated joint board on the last working day of the month.

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Bailey-Lee Robb, SNP councillor for Cowdenbeath, said the few committee meetings that had taken place were merely used to appoint convenors and there had been “no action at all” on forming a battle plan for the local authority on tackling the joint housing and cost-of-living crises facing Fife.

Missing in action 

It comes after council leader Ross was fiercely criticised in July for jetting off to Australia for two months after accepting a 75% increase in his total remuneration.

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Council employees across Scotland are set to strike this month after rejecting a pay rise of 3.5%.

Robb and his SNP colleague Brian Goodall said they agitated for an early meeting of the people and communities scrutiny committee to be held in June, in response to the “life or death” cost of living crisis, but that this call was rejected.

A meeting was held on Tuesday, but Robb and Goodall both said their recommendations for the agenda were rejected.

Labour excuses 'absolutely ridiculous' 

Robb told The National they had pushed for the committee to consider reports on the cost of living and the housing crisis but that these were rejected on the grounds they were already being considered by council leadership.

“When these committees have met, they’ve elected the chairs and that’s it,” he added.

“We’d called for a report on Cafe Inc which is the holiday hunger provision, we’d called for a report on the cost of living action being taken forward by the council and also the housing crisis … the reason we were given these weren’t brought forward was because there was no officer time, the council was in recess.

“I had a heated exchange with the [communities director] Michael Enston, who said it wouldn’t be appropriate for [the people and communities] committee to be considering reports that are going to the cabinet committee later that month.

“That is absolutely ridiculous, that is not an excuse. Basically what we were told is you can’t scrutinise something if it's in play for another committee.

“But the whole point of a scrutiny committee is to scrutinise what’s happened already and what’s being proposed.”

Robb claimed that power had been “centralised” in the hands of the Labour administration which had “placed a gag on committees” and that his colleagues in other councils had taken action on the cost of living by forming working groups on the issue. 

Council leader Ross said: "This is a complete distortion of the position by councillors Robb and Goodall. 

"The council has an agreed programme of support for people facing the impacts of poverty and the cost of living crisis including an additional investment of £5.3 million to support low-income families and stimulate local economic recovery.  

"This is on top of the more than £11m that the council already commits directly to tackling poverty. 

“These measures are already under way so to claim no action is being taken is completely false. 

"We have also already agreed that a full report on the implementation of these measures will be coming to the council’s cabinet committee in September along with proposals for further action to address any gaps in provision that are identified. 

“These councillors could better spend their time making suggestions about what further practical actions the council could be taking to support people rather than trying to undermine what is already happening and making unfounded personal attacks on me.”