The political alliance formed to run Aberdeenshire Council after the local council elections last year has been strengthened after the Scottish Labour Group reached an agreement to join the Alliance.
The two Scottish Labour Councillors elected in May 2012, Alison Evison (North Kincardine) and Raymond Christie (Stonehaven and Lower Deeside) were the first from their party to be elected on to the Shire council.
The addition of the two Scottish Labour councillors now gives the Alliance an overall majority of two on the Council.
At its formation, the Alliance Group included 14 Conservatives, 12 Liberal Democrats and nine Independent councillors. However, Independent Councillor lain Tait resigned from the group in November.
Conservative Councillor and Council Leader Jim Gifford said: “We very much welcome Alison and Raymond to the Alliance Group. Since the election last year, the Alliance has worked well together and worked well for the whole of Aberdeenshire.”
He added: ‘’The strength of the Alliance Group has been our ability to work together without party politics getting in the way, in the best interests of our constituents. We look forward to that continuing with our new group.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor and council deputy leader Martin Kitts-Hayes added: “I am delighted that the Scottish Labour Group is joining the Alliance as we approach our first year in office.
“It will bring added substance and depth to the Administration. It also confirms the inclusive nature of the Aberdeenshire Alliance.
“I look forward to Alison and Raymond making a significant contribution to achieving our shared ambition.”
The coordinator of the Independent Councillors Group and Deputy Provost Norman Smith also said: ‘The already successful Aberdeenshire Alliance are delighted that councillors Alison Evison and Raymond Christie are to join the Alliance.”
Aberdeenshire’s Scottish Labour Group Leader Alison Evison commented: “Our membership of the Alliance will give it important strength and stability.
“We are very pleased to be able to work together in a spirit of mutual trust and respect to ensure that Aberdeenshire delivers the best possible services. “
Commenting on the SNP Shadow Council Leader Hamish Vernal said: “This might come as a surprise to the voters who elected Labour’s two councillors, but it’s hardly a surprise for anyone who has been watching how they have behaved since May.
“Time after time, Councillors Evison and Christie have voted slavishly in support of the Tory-led administration, even to the extent of voting against plans to increase the support available to classroom assistants.”
The administration recently lost a member when Fraserburgh and District Councillor Ian Tait walked out, making it vulnerable to losing votes. Remarking that the inclusion of Labour could actually make the administration even less stable, Cllr Vernal added:
“The administration is clearly trying to shore up its increasingly shaky anyone-but the-SNP alliance of convenience. However, I can’t imagine that many of the Independents in the administration will be too thrilled about having to explain to their voters that they have allied themselves with yet another party – especially when that party is Labour.
“At least now this arrangement is out in the open, voters will be able to see clearly how Labour’s councillors are happy to put their support of Tory and Liberal policies ahead of their principles.”