Attempts by the SNP to form a new administration at Moray Council has drawn bitter comments from the leader of the current independent group at the local authority.
Councillor Stewart Cree has issued a “hands off” warning to the nationalists – despite the council convener, Allan Wright, having admitted that the SNP had a “legitimate claim” to form an administration.
The Independent/Tory administration was thrown into chaos last year when two Scottish Conservative members, Councillors Douglas Ross and James Allan, were removed from the administration group after they voted against it on key issues.
Since then the SNP have won two by-elections in Elgin and Buckie that has brought their number to 11 members – one more than the ruling independent administration group who are supported by Councillor Wright as a “non-aligned” Conservative member.
Soon after the Buckie victory the SNP group announced that they would seek discussions with other members with a view to forming a new administration.
Now Councillor Cree has hit out at the SNP group who he says have been approaching independent councillors in a “predatory manner” – but insists that there is a determination amongst them to stay together as an administration.
He told a P&J reporter: “We have completed a great deal and our record will stand us in good stead in that regard – the people of Moray expect us to get on and do things, not to be endlessly bickering and picking at each other.”
However, SNP councillor Graham Leadbitter insisted that it is because of public pressure that they are attempting to form a new administration.
Confirming that his group had approached several councillors with a view to them crossing over and joining a new alliance, he said: “Some [councillors] have already made it clear that they are happy to remain with the failing administration – despite the strong view of the public that change is needed.
“It is clear from the comments that SNP councillors are getting from the general public that they want us to attempt to form an administration.
“That is exactly what we are trying to do – the severity of the language being used by Councillor Cree would suggest that the current situation in the council has him rattled.”