SNP takes control in Aberdeenshire

Aberdeenshire Council's Woodhill House headquarters.
Aberdeenshire Council's Woodhill House headquarters.

Aberdeenshire Council has a new SNP-led administration.

The nationalists seized control when they ousted the Alliance group at a special meeting of the authority on Monday.

The Tory-led administration lost its majority after the recent resignation of four coalition members

The 28-strong SNP group have joined forces with the four-member Progressive Alliance between Scottish Labour and Progressive Independent Councillors - known as the Partnership.

Independent Councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes and Ellon and District SNP Councillor Richard Thomson were appointed as co-leaders of the council.

In an arrangement thought to be the first of its kind in Scottish local government, they agreed to job-share the positions of leader and depute leader.

Former SNP group leader Hamish Vernal was appointed provost, replacing Councillor Jill Webster, who said she felt as though she had been “stabbed in the back”.

Councillor Thomson said later: “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.”

Councillor Kitts-Hayes said: “This partnership arrangement, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, marks a historic day for Aberdeenshire Council.

“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.”

But deposed leader Jim Gifford claimed the new administration was a “recipe for disaster”.

He said: “This was cobbled together at the last minute and it is simply not going to work.

“We have had a fantastic three years and done a tremendous amount of good things for Aberdeenshire.

“But we will dust ourselves down, keep the alliance together and prove to be a more challenging opposition.”

The Democratic Independent and Green Group’s (DIGG) two members had talks with the SNP and the Progressive Alliance in the run-up to Monday’s meeting.

DIGG member Councillor Martin Ford said: “We have not signed up to an agreement to become part of the administration – we have a limited agreement.

“On everything else we will be taking our own independent decisions.”