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Moray SNP in talks to seize power

By Hazel Lawson

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SNP group leader Pearl Paul
SNP group leader Pearl Paul

THE SNP is seeking to take control of Moray Council’s administration.

Following Sonya Warren’s win in last week’s Buckie by-election - with almost 60% of the vote - the party is now the largest group on the local authority with 11 councillors.

This afternoon a statement was released from SNP group leader Pearl Paul saying they would be pro-actively pursuing a "stable, reliable and progressive" leadership for the council.

The by-election was called following the death in January of Independent councillor for Buckie Joe Mackay.

At the moment 10 Independents form the administration with Conservative Convener Allan Wright.

There are also two Labour and two Tory councillors who sit outwith the ruling group.

As some councillors are away for the Easter break, talks between the SNP and other elected members are expected to take place over the next two weeks.

Councillor Paul said Thursday’s ballot had signalled a shift in opinion.

She added: "That vote has made the SNP the largest single group of councillors in Moray and the vehicle for that change.

"However, we are not the majority in the council and have already begun speaking to other councillors in Moray seeking a way forward, and that will continue over the coming days.

"The SNP will seek to lead a stable, reliable and progressive administration, which is what we believe the public in Moray are demanding, and that also requires other councillors to stand up and be counted.

Councillor Paul said the council’s leadership had been on a "shoogly peg" for quite a while and it was time for change.

She added: "Successive Moray Council administrations have become more distant from our communities and we want to redress that balance.

"The SNP has consistently supported our local schools, voted against class size increases, supported low wage families and the most vulnerable in our society and that is the basis on which we will continue to work."

On November 3 Councillor Wright stepped down as leader of the council after losing a vote on the Sustainable Education Review.

During that meeting a moratorium was imposed on 29 primary schools, forbidding their closure for a five-year period.

Within days the Independents withdrew their participation in the cross-party Area Based Review body, before ejecting Conservative member for Fochabers Lhanbryde Douglas Ross from the administration, amid allegations he was canvassing against the group.

Councillor Ross was in Spain officiating at football match when he learned of his expulsion.

Soon after that Conservative councillor James Allan resigned from the ruling group because of their treatment of Councillor Ross.

At a meeting on November 18 it was agreed by 13 votes to 11 for the then convener of the council Independent Stewart Cree, to become leader of the council and Councillor Wright to become convener.

The SNP failed to have a vote of no confidence passed on the council’s leadership in December.

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