Moray Council's leader has said that the SNP's reluctance to work with a Conservative councillor is a "major reason" behind a stalemate in creating a ruling administration.
According to the statement made today by Independent George Alexander, and backed by the remaining members of the now minority council administration, the departure of the seven Tory councillors last week from the 13-strong ruling group has seen a return to a similar position faced by the 26 councillors immediately after the May 2017 election.
The statement reads: "At close of play on June 1, as a result of intense negotiations, it seemed likely that nine SNP councillors, one Labour councillor, one Conservative councillor and seven independent councillors would form a rainbow coalition with the present convener, Councillor James Allan, remaining in post and the present Leader, Councillor George Alexander, stepping down to be replaced by an SNP councillor. Some members needed the weekend to check with their political masters.
"This positive idea has now been pushed aside by the SNP group in the council on party political grounds.
"The SNP group of councillors has reversed its initial acceptance of a Conservative councillor in a rainbow coalition and consequently we have decided to step aside at the soonest convenient time and let either the nine SNP councillors, as the majority group on the council, or some other grouping of councillors, form the next administration group for the Moray Council.
"We very much regret that the attempt to form a rainbow alliance has failed and one major reason for this failure was the refusal of the SNP party to allow any association with a member of the Conservative party in the Moray Council.
"We wish the new administration group every success and we will continue to do all we can to benefit the people of Moray."
Other councillors named as supporting the statement are current members of the administration Ron Shepherd, John Cowe and Gordon Cowie (all Independent) and James Allan (Conservative).
The name of Councillor Lorna Creswell (Independent) was not included as she is currently on holiday and out of contact.