Ambitious plans by Aberdeenshire Council to relocate its HQ to a new office at a north-east football club remain on course, despite a change in administration.
North-east councillors will meet tomorrow for the first time since the local government elections a fortnight ago to vote in new leadership.
One of the major decisions facing them is whether to make a multimillion-pound move to new offices, a scheme opponents branded an SNP “vanity project” last year.
The Conservative group, then in opposition, criticised the SNP’s handling of the headquarters scheme and the issue proved divisive.
But the proposed move to Inverurie Loco Works FC Harlaw Park ground is not in jeopardy, despite earlier opposition.
It is understood a coalition deal has now been struck between Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and a number of independent councillors to lead the authority from tomorrow.
Last night, Tory group leader Jim Gifford said: “The office strategy was agreed cross-party in the last council and will be progressed under whatever new administration the council has after Thursday’s meeting.
“The details of what that means is still very much a work in progress. A new working group will be created as part of the agenda of the council meeting on Thursday to take that process forward.”
This morning Liberal Democrat leader Peter Argyle added: “The Liberal Democrat group were part of the cross-party working group that was established to oversee the Inverurie offices project prior to the election.
“We fully intend to continue that work once the new council is in place.”
Inverurie Loco Works chairman, Eddie Innes, remains confident a deal to bring the council to the town can be done.
Mr Innes said: “We are more than happy to work with any of the political groups. We have no concerns.
“There are some experienced councillors including Jim Gifford. We know him and we have worked with him before.”
Under the scheme, the football club would relocate to a new Inverurie sports complex.
Last night SNP group leader, Richard Thomson, who announced the Locos deal when he was council co-leader in October, insisted moving from Woodhill House to a smaller civic building could save the taxpayer money.
He added: “As the detail and thinking behind the project was fleshed out in committee, it began to win widespread support across the council. That’s enormously important, because a project of this kind must have that broad cross-party consent if it is to proceed successfully.”