Published: 10/05/2017 15:13 - Updated: 10/05/2017 15:16

Independents, Liberal Democrats and Labour to form coalition to lead new-look Highland Council

Written byEmma Crichton

Highland Council's headquarters in Glenurquhart Road, Inverness.
Highland Council's headquarters in Glenurquhart Road, Inverness.

A THREE way alliance has been confirmed as the new Highland Council administration.

Independent group leader Margaret Davidson confirmed this afternoon that a coalition between her 28 councillors and the 10 Liberal Democrats has been agreed, propped up by the three Labour councillors. This will give the administration a slim majority of four but Councillor Davidson insisted it will be a stable partnership.

“We are pleased to announce that a coalition of independents, Liberal Democrats and Labour councillors have formed an administration to take Highland Council forward for the next five years,” she said.

“This is an agreement that provides a sustainable administration for the long term and represents the widespread opinion across the Highlands.”

This comes after SNP group leader Maxine Smith yesterday accused the independents of “betraying voters” by joining up with Labour and the Lib Dems before negotiating with her councillors, which was denied by Cllr Davidson.

Cllr Smith thinks the independents should have formed a coalition with her 22 councillors, which would have given them a bigger majority.

“We are a group of 22 and they are a group of 28 and together we would have formed a robust, stable and experienced coalition, which would have remained in place for the five-year term,” she said.

“Given that our vote stayed high and the Lib Dems, Labour and independents all lost seats to the Tories, this does not make sense and is a betrayal of the public vote.”

The coalition paves the way for Cllr Davidson to return as council leader, with Lib Dem and Labour leaders Alasdair Christie and Jimmy Gray likely to take on senior roles.

A full council meeting will be held next Thursday, May 18 when office bearers will be appointed.

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