THE Conservative group on Moray Council has admitted that an attempt to broker "last ditch talks" with colleagues to form a fresh administration have failed.
Tory group leader Cllr Tim Eagle revealed that approaches to all councillors over the weekend "have been ignored".
Seven of the eight Tory councillors quit the ruling Independent-Conservative administration following a disagreement on the strategic direction of the council.
Cllr Eagle said: "We left the council because there was an unwillingness to question two £90K director jobs which together will cost around £1 million over the lifetime of this council term, alongside this there was a lack of medium and long term planning that concerned us and little appetite to reach out for help from bodies such as the Improvement service."
"The Conservative group were the only ones to speak up for the people of Moray in questioning the jobs and the need for a more developed longer term strategy for Moray."
"We were always open for talks about forming a new administration but after talks failed between the SNP and other councillors I took ownership of the situation and sent an e-mail to councillors asking for one final time to chat through the issues and try to form a refreshed administration group that would look for external support to help stabilise the current situation and plan more for the medium and long term.
"We asked interested councillors to meet us this morning but just before the meeting we received a message saying the independent group would not meet us but instead we could come to them at a later time."
"The message indicated some kind of power battle which I find appalling behaviour. I have been very clear in the past that none of this is about power games but about really trying to do the best for the people of Moray and it is sad therefore that others could not see this offer for the greater good it was intended as.
"Over the last few weeks the SNP have thrown ridiculous comments at us as have some of our former colleagues in administration yet we have been calm and rationale in our reactions.
"We have not played political games but instead tried to focus on what was best for Moray.
"Many of the Conservative chairs have tried hard this last year to be positive and optimistic. We went out to meet staff and members of the public. We kept politics to a minimum and focused on transformation yet at every turn the SNP have been destructive, critical and played political games. They have made their bed this last year, now they have to lie in it and I hope the public will remember their promises and hold them to account for them."
"The Conservative group will now spend time looking at the future for Moray, thinking about potential options for change and future budgets and playing an active and constructive role in opposition."