Councillors from the Garioch will feature in prominent council positions following the political changes that took place at Aberdeenshire Council on Monday, June 8.
Following a special meeting of the Full Council, a new administration “The Partnership” was formed by the 28 SNP members and the four strong “Progressive Alliance” between Scottish Labour and Progressive Independent Councillors.
Inverurie and District councillor Hamish Vernal was elected as Provost and West Garioch Councillor Allison Grant as Deputy Provost.
Inverurie and District councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes and Ellon and District councillor Richard Thomson were appointed as co-leaders of Aberdeenshire Council.
In an arrangement thought to be the first of its kind in Scottish local government, Cllr Kitts-Hayes and Cllr Thomson agreed to job-share the positions of Leader and Depute Leader.
Speaking afterwards, Cllr Kitts-Hayes said: “This partnership arrangement, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, marks a historic day for Aberdeenshire Council.
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“The new Partnership Administration is committed to working together for the benefit of the residents and communities of Aberdeenshire. We’re looking forward to getting on with the job.”
Cllr Thomson said: “The SNP group has played a constructive role over the past three years as the main opposition. However, we have always said that we stood ready to help form an administration should the opportunity arise. Together with our partners, we’ve stepped up to that responsibility today.
“There’s much to do in Aberdeenshire in terms of making sure our council is delivering for our residents as well as it can, while ensuring fairness in what are still difficult financial times.
“We’re confident we’ll be able to work together effectively and that collectively, we’ll rise to the challenge.”
The two Democratic Independent and Green Group councillors Martin Ford and Paul Johnston voted in favour of electing the new administration in order to secure important Council policy changes the new administration has agreed with the DIGG to introduce.
West Garioch councillor Martin Ford said: “The new administration has made a formal agreement to implement a range of DIGG policies.
“Under the DIGG agreement with the new administration, the Council will in future undertake proper public consultation on its annual budget. The Council will increase the annual spend on support for active travel – cycling and walking – and bring in other measures to help reduce carbon emissions. There will be no cuts to the budget for community learning and development. The Council’s procurement rules will be changed to take account of wider benefits that might be secured through purchasing decisions.
“The Council will support including re-opening the Dyce to Ellon railway line in the proposed Aberdeen City Region Deal.”