THE SNP GROUP at Moray Council have been expressing their ‘extreme disappointment’ at the decision by six independent councillors to team up with the Conservative group in forming a Council Administration.
A brief statement from the proposed new administration today provided no details on their plans, saying only that the eight Conservative members and six of the Independent members would seek to formalise their agreement at Full Council on Wednesday.
InsideMoray understands that the sixth independent joining the administration alongside five experienced members from the last administration is Heldon & Laich Councillor Ryan Edwards – the only possible member after Councillor Derek Ross confirmed to us today that he would remain as a ‘true’ independent.
SNP Co-Leader Graham Leadbitter hit out at the Independent members who did not seek further talks with the nine-strong SNP group since announcing their determination to reach a solution on Friday.
Councillor Leadbitter said: “It is extremely disappointing that despite serious proposals being put to the Independents by ourselves and Labour that the Independents chose to have no further discussion with the SNP, to the point of reneging on a meeting that had previously been agreed.
“It now looks like Moray is going to have a Tory-led Administration that is set to go along with the shocking austerity being imposed by Westminster, which will see our services further depleted.”
SNP Co-Leader Shona Morrison added: “SNP Councillors have spent many hours since the election working hard with other councillors to find a way forward and it is very disappointing that six of the Independents have chosen to throw their lot in with the Tories.
“We have been told that the reason they couldn’t work with us was our commitment to no compulsory redundancies, which suggests they are already planning swingeing cuts to services.
“Our SNP Councillors were prepared to take on the Administration but we are also equally prepared to provide the robust challenge that will be required of a Tory-led Council.”
Earlier today Speyside/Glenlivet member Councillor Derek Ross told insideMoray: “I spoke to both the Conservative and SNP groups but chose throughout to press them to talk to each other, to create an Administration that crossed all party boundaries and sought to serve the people of Moray in the best way possible.
“That proved to be unsuccessful, despite my best efforts they just would not entertain such an arrangement – and in the end we have what many believed we would have from the start, the same type of joint administration that ruled Moray for the last five years.
“I just do not believe that serves the best interests of Moray – we will see how things pan out in the future, but my position has remained unchanged from the outset and that is a desire to do what is best, to protect jobs in Moray and make decisions on what is right for local people and not national political parties.”