FIFE COUNCIL’S Labour co-leader has called on his SNP counterpart to publicly withdraw remarks he made that there was “not a cat in hell’s chance at the moment” of a second wave of coronavirus hitting Scotland.

SNP councillor David Alexander’s comments came at the first meeting of the full council to be held since lockdown began in March.

They have been deemed as “totally irresponsible” and come just a week after NHS Fife’s public health director Dona Milne said that Fife would see another outbreak of COVID-19 as the impact of the common winter flu may lead to an increase in the virus. 

Cllr David Ross said: “I have contacted Cllr Alexander and formally asked him to make a public retraction of his remarks at yesterday’s council meeting when he said there’s ‘not a cat’s chance in hell at the moment’ of a second wave of the COVID-19 virus in Scotland or Fife. 

“This contradicts everything we’re being told by the Scottish and UK governments and by public health. 

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from Cllr Alexander yesterday and was absolutely appalled by these remarks. 

“Even if this was said in the heat of the moment, for a co-leader of the council to make such a remark is totally irresponsible, it gives completely the wrong message to people in Fife and Cllr Alexander needs to make an immediate public retraction.” 

Cllr Alexander said at last Thursday’s meeting: “There is no indication of a second wave – none whatsoever in Scotland.

“We have had no deaths in a Fife care home since July 1. Where is the second wave? There is not a cat in hell’s chance at the moment it’s coming.”

His comments were made in response to Cllr Tim Brett’s approved amendment which urged Fife council leaders to write to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, asking for a “rapid inquiry”  into Scotland’s response to COVID-19.

Cllr Alexander said Cllr Brett’s proposal was a “disgrace” and he did not agree with “newspaper headline” figures quoted by him.

In a statement following the meeting, he said: “My view was the Government had already stated that there will be a full inquiry. To make this demand in the midst of the pandemic, if successful, would take out hundreds of people throughout Scotland who are already involved in all aspects of suppressing the virus, and move them from current protection duties to analysing the past.

“To try to justify that this should happen Cllr Tim Brett then proceeded to detail a whole list of dubious statements which attempted to show Scotland, and by implication Fife, had performed poorly.

“The reality is Scotland is performing well and Fife even better.

“Scotland transmission rate per 100,000 was the 9th best out of 34 European countries at the end of July. In terms of fatalities and positive infections Fife’s performance is better proportionately better than Scotland.

“Given that positive performance there was no requirement for an immediate investigation into the pandemic to prepare for a second wave when so much is already in place.”

Fife Conservatives leader Dave Dempsey criticised Cllr Alexander for his “daft” comments.

Speaking to the Press, he said: “He is utterly blinkered – it seems that anything that goes against the SNP Scottish Government is just wrong. 

“He appears to me that he has lost interest and David Ross is carrying the weight of the council leadership. 

“What he said is just daft, he is utterly devoted to the Nationalist cause and anything that conflicts with the narrative has to be wrong.”

Steve Grimmond, chief executive, noted at the meeting that the council was “well-prepared” should there be another outbreak of COVID-19.

He said: “We certainly have plans for a second wave pandemic or if there are indeed more localised outbreaks as we have seen very recently in Aberdeen, the Borders and Lanarkshire in the last couple of weeks.

“We’ve considered the needs, if necessary, to close services in Fife, such as education, and reimpose any elements to lockdown so I think we are reasonably well-prepared for that.”