Aberdeenshire Council’s SNP group will enter talks with fellow opposition members in an attempt to seize control of the authority.
Opposition group leader Hamish Vernal confirmed last night that the SNP is “looking to enter talks” to form a new administration.
It comes as current council leader Jim Gifford said he was committed to “two more years” of the ruling Aberdeenshire Alliance – despite the four shock departures this week.
The alliance has a minority of 33 members after deputy council leader Martin Kitts-Hayes, Sheena Lonchay, Alison Evison and Raymond Christie quit.
And last night Mr Vernal confirmed the group was preparing to make a grab for power, and was “looking to others to form an administration”.
He said: “We are now looking to enter talks with anyone who is like-minded.”
Mr Vernal’s confirmation came just hours after Independent councillors Mr Kitts-Hayes and Mrs Lonchay formally teamed up with Labour’s Mrs Evison and Mr Christie to form the Progressive Alliance.
Mrs Evison said the new partnership would “work together to promote a progressive agenda within Aberdeenshire Council”.
The four councillors quit the administration amid claims it was becoming increasingly Tory-led.
Council leader Mr Gifford – who has previously dismissed their claims – said last night he expected no more departures from the Aberdeenshire Alliance, and insisted it could continue to operate even with a minority of 33-35.
He said: “As far as we’re concerned we have got two years to go. We met as an administration and group on Wednesday and the first thing we did was to reaffirm that nothing had changed. We are committed to the people of Aberdeenshire.”
He was echoed by the Liberal Democrat’s group leader Karen Clark, who said: “It is up to those who left the alliance group to decide what is best for them and it has been their choice to walk away.
“The alliance did a very good job setting political allegiances aside two years ago. We set a very clear direction and we have been remarkably successful in delivering this.”