‘Aberdeenshire Alliance’ take control of council

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Aberdeenshire Council is now being led by the Aberdeenshire Alliance comprising 14 Conservative, 12 Liberal Democrat, and nine Independent councillors.

Leading the administration is Cllr Jim Gifford, with Cllr Martin Kitts-Hayes as deputy leader. The co-ordinator of the Independent members is Central Buchan’s Norman Smith.

At the first meeting of the full council since the local government elections Cllr Jill Webster was appointed as Provost.

But in response to the administration’s appointments strategy, the SNP said it had thrown consensus politics away when it ditched the council’s previously long-held commitment to fairness in allocating committee places.

With five seats on CoSLA to be allocated among the political groups, the SNP with 41% of Aberdeenshire’s councillors was denied fair representation and will now only have one seat (20%) of Aberdeenshire’s CoSLA places.

The move was voted through by the Tories with support from the Liberals, Labour and most Independents.

Commenting, SNP group leader and leader of the Opposition, Cllr Joanna Strathdee, said: “With more than double the number of seats as the next nearest party, the SNP had a clear mandate from the voters to lead the new administration on Aberdeenshire Council.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a repeat of what appears to be happening the length and breadth of the country with Tory, Liberal and Labour coalitions being formed to stop the SNP. It’s disappointing for the people who put their trust in us based on our manifesto pledges, but we will still try to get as much of our programme implemented as possible.

“At the end of the day, the SNP in Aberdeenshire will support good ideas which make life better for our citizens regardless of which party proposes them, and I hope the other parties will view our suggestions in the same light.”

However, Cllr Strathdee had some strong words for the Tory-led administration, which voted to give the SNP only 20% of Aberdeenshire’s seats on CoSLA in spite of the party having 41% of the councillors.

She said: “This move was anti-democratic and simply beggars belief. It’s nothing short of a power-grab by the Tory-led coalition.

“In Aberdeenshire previously, while the opposition and administration parties had their disagreements, they were always good-natured and based on policy and whichever party was in power, committee places were always allocated very fairly and based on party numbers.

“That did not happen today and I really hope that this is not the start of something more sinister creeping into Aberdeenshire politics.”

Meanwhile, new Provost Jill Webster paid tribute to the former Provost, Cllr Bill Howatson, for his tireless work and commitment to Aberdeenshire. She went on to say how delighted she was to have been elected as Provost and that she saw her role as an ambassador for Aberdeenshire.

Provost Webster acknowledged the previous approach of councillors in working in a consensual nature, adding she was keen to see this continue with a focus on mutual respect and courtesy.

She said she was passionate about Aberdeenshire as a fantastic place to live, work, visit and invest in with stunning beaches, dramatic coastlines, magnificent mountains and countryside.

Provost Webster made reference to Aberdeenshire’s successful economy and its reputation for entrepreneurship, innovation, whilst maintaining a friendly, welcoming and hospitable nature. She went on to say that Aberdeenshire was often recognised as having the best quality of life in Scotland.

Cllr Norman Smith was elected as the Deputy Provost.

He said it was a privilege and honour to be elected and that he would do all he could to support the Provost in her duties.

Councillors then went onto make appointments to policy committees which saw just one SNP councillor given responsibility of a local authority committee - Ellon’s Richard Thomson as vice-chair of Scrutiny and Audit.

Peterhead councillorAlan Buchan has been handed chairmanship iof Industrial Cases.

Appointments of chairs and vice-chairs of Aberdeenshire Council’s six area committees will be made at the first meeting of each committee of the new term.

The full rundown is as follows:

Policy & Resources:

Chair: Cllr Jim Gifford

Vice-Chair: Cllr Martin Kitts-Hayes

Infrastructure Services:

Chair: Cllr Peter Argyle

Vice-Chair: Cllr Alan Buchan

Education, Learning & Leisure:

Chair: Cllr Isobel Davidson

Vice-Chair: Cllr Ron McKail

Social Work & Housing:

Chair: Cllr Karen Clark

Vice-Chair: Cllr Alisan Norrie

Scrutiny & Audit:

Chair: Cllr Gillian Owen

Vice-Chair: Cllr Richard Thomson

Appointments Committee:

Chair: Cllr Jim Gifford

Vice-Chair: Cllr Kitts- Hayes

Appeals Committee:

Chair: Cllr Alastair Ross

Licensing:

Sub-committee to appoint

Industrial Cases:

Chair: Cllr Alan Buchan

Procedures Committee:

Chair: Provost Webster