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Council election sees political groups strive to reach a coalition deal with the SNP in pole position but the Independents are just one councillor behind


By Scott Maclennan


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Council Administration

The newly elected leaders of each of the political groups on Highland Council were remaining tight-lipped yesterday as private negotiations to form a new political administration take place.

News of when a deal might be struck to form a coalition following Thursday’s local authority elections could emerge at any time but realistically is expected sometime around the end of this week or into next.

With no single group achieving an outright win, agreement will be needed between two or more groupings to achieve a working majority of at least 38 councillors across the 74-member authority.

The SNP is the largest single group on the council, with 22 members, just ahead of the 21 Independent councillors.

However, it may be the Liberal Democrats who hold the power as potential king-makers, their numbers increasing after last week’s vote from 10 to 15.

The Greens also form their first group at the council, with four elected members, and could play a significant role in who leads for the next five years.

Leaders

But before the haggling could begin the first order of business for many newly elected councillors was to choose the leaders of their respective political groups.

The SNP returned Councillor Raymond Bremner as their head while Independent councillors will be led by former council convener, Bill Lobban.

Inverness Ness-side’s Cllr Alasdair Christie was also returned as head of the newly expanded Liberal Democrat group.

The biggest change was in the Conservative group as former Inverness South councillor Andrew Jarvie lost his leadership position to Thurso and Northwest Caithness councillor Struan Mackie and newly elected Aird and Loch Ness member Helen Crawford who will take on the mantle of joint leaders.

The Greens will be led by Chris Ballance but are considering a rotating leadership over the next five years with one of the four members taking the lead each council term.

There was no word on the formal leader of the Labour group, which has two members.

For the latest news on the Highland Council and the election click here


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