SNP Aberdeenshire councillors met on the first day of the summer recess last week to agree their Shadow Council Administration team.
At May’s elections, the SNP emerged as the largest party in Aberdeenshire in terms of both votes and seats, with twice the number of councillors as the next largest party.
However, a Tory-led coalition of Liberals and Independents, backed by Labour, united to keep the SNP out of administration.
With such a wide-ranging coalition, the SNP Group in Aberdeenshire has decided to name a Shadow Administration to be ready to step in and take over the running of the council.
The key positions are:
SNP Group Leader & Shadow Leader of the Council - Cllr Hamish Vernal (Inverurie & District)
SNP Group Deputy Leader - Cllr Stephen Smith (Peterhead South & Cruden)
Chair of the Group - Cllr Jim Ingram (Central Buchan)
Finance spokesperson - Cllr Fergus Hood (East Garioch)
Infrastructure Services spokesperson - Cllr Rob Merson (Ellon & District)
Housing & Social Work spokesperson - Cllr Anne Allan (Peterhead North & Rattray)
Education, Leisure & Learning spokesperson - Cllr Jean Dick (Mearns)
Scrutiny & Audit spokesperson - Cllr Richard Thomson (Ellon & District)
Commenting, Cllr Vernal said: “The SNP Group has spent some time taking stock of where we are and how we can best move Aberdeenshire forward in the interests of its residents.
“Clearly, at a time when frontline services are being cut, when classroom assistants are being removed and when sheltered housing warden cover is being reduced, it is simply unacceptable to suddenly find that the council has underspent to the tune of £20 million.
“That is money which has been taken from the taxpayer on the understanding that it would be used to finance exactly the sort of services which we have seen being cut. This is just one example of where fresh thinking and a more thorough scrutiny of the council’s budget is required, but I fear we will not get that from the Tory-led coalition.
“The SNP Group is resolved to carry forward the manifesto which gained us 41% of the seats in this council and we will push for our common-sense proposals to be implemented. Sometimes we will be successful, such as the Public Petitions Committee which we argued successfully for last week; sometimes our suggestions will get voted down, such as our plan for a Budget Monitoring Committee, but we will be an effective Administration-in-Waiting for the people of Aberdeenshire.”