Council power struggle could see three ‘True Independents’

Councillor Ross – independent pledge.

MORAY’S NEWLY ELECTED Councillors were locked in talks over who will form an administration for the next five years.

The nine-strong SNP group invited Independent and Labour councillors to a summit meeting yesterday as they sought to take control of the local authority.

However, it is emerging that at least three councillors – Ryan Edwards, Derek Ross and Sandy Cooper – could form their own ‘non-aligned’ group in the Council chamber.

The remaining five Independent councillors along with Labour member John Divers appear to hold the key. Mr Divers is understood to have spoken to the SNP group and notified them of his terms – but for the remaining five it seems likely that they will favour renewing their association with the Conservatives.

They are being led by Councillor John Cowe in talks with the SNP and Tory groups, with Tory councillor Marc Macrae saying that he “held the balance of power” at present.

John Cowe – could hold the key.

Co-leader of the SNP group, Graham Leadbitter, said he and colleague Shona Morrison remained determined to convince as many independents as possible to join them in an alliance. Councillor Leadbitter said: “We will aim to persuade the Independent councillors that the authority needs the sort of stability and direction that only we can offer.”

Meanwhile Councillor Macrae insisted that the talks would be a “gradual process” – a new administration does, however, required to be formed before the first full council meeting takes place on Wednesday, May 17.

Meanwhile one of the Councillors who is thought to be refusing to join with an SNP or Tory alliance, Speyside/Glenlivet member Derek Ross, paid tribute to the people of his own ward.

Councillor Derek Ross told insideMoray that he was also grateful for the ‘unbiased and in-depth coverage’ of the local council elections provided by this community news site.

He added: “I would like to thank the voters of Speyside/Glenlivet for putting their trust in me at the recent Council election – everyone was unfailingly polite towards us when we were canvassing in the Ward.

“We truly live in a magnificent part of Scotland – due to the people I have met, I believe that there is more that unites us than divides us.”

Confirming his stance in Administration talks he added: “I still pledge to be really independent.”

The Conservative group meanwhile have named Heldon & Laich Councillor James Allan as their group leader.  Councillor Allan said: “It is a great honour and privilege to announce that I have been made Conservative Group leader.  We have a fantastic group of councillors to represent constituents in all eight wards.”