The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have reached a deal with independent councillors to take control of Aberdeenshire Council for the next five years.
The deal, which closely mirrors the set-up before this month’s election aside from a few fresh faces, will be formalised when the newly elected or re-elected councillors meet for the first time at Woodhill House on Thursday.
Following the vote on May 5, the Tories emerged as the largest party in the region with 26 seats out of the 70 available.
The Lib Dems took 14, while the SNP became the second-largest party with 21 seats.
All three parties increased their share of seats from immediately before the election, at the expense of smaller parties such as the Greens and Alba.
Nine independent councillors were elected, a significant drop from the number sitting on the council ahead of the vote.
Of those nine, seven are expected to join the coalition.
It is understood that independents Alison Evison and Paul Johnston are forming their own group.
Reactions to deal
New Conservative group leader Mark Findlater said he was “delighted” to confirm the news of the agreement.
He added: “We are going to work diligently to get real results for the people of Aberdeenshire.
“In the run-up to the council election all our candidates, regardless of party, were given clear instructions about what really matters to them.
“We will be bringing that to the table, as well as the desire to work together across all parties for the benefit of this county.”
In a statement, SNP group leader Gwyneth Petrie said: “The damage of Tory austerity policies and poor decision making at Westminster are clear to see, and are evidently contributing to the on-going cost of living crisis.
“To see them back in administration in Aberdeenshire will be difficult for many to accept – and it is unlikely that they will deliver real help for those struggling in these difficult times.
“As the main opposition, we will do all we can to hold the administration to account, and keep the real focus of the council on assisting those who live throughout Aberdeenshire.”
Top jobs yet to be filled
A council leader and provost will also be decided at Thursday’s council meeting, though Mr Findlater is likely to take the first post.
Former council leader Anne Stirling, who took over the reins of the council’s Lib Dem group after the shock defeat of Peter Argyle at the election, may also be up for one of the top jobs thanks to the coalition deal.
The previous council leader, Andy Kille, and provost, Bill Howatson, both chose to step down at this year’s elections, and the departure of deputy leader Mr Argyle means new figures will be filling all three posts.