The leader of Aberdeenshire Council accused opposition councillors of “making it up as they go along” last night as a new SNP-led administration made its final preparations for a leadership bid today.
Jim Gifford, leader of the 33-strong Aberdeenshire Alliance, took aim at the newly formed 32-member coalition between the SNP group and the Progressive Alliance – which consists of two Independent councillors and the Labour group.
He hit out on the eve of today’s specially convened meeting of the full council, during which the opposition is expected to take control of the local authority.
The two groups have entered into an agreement with the two-strong Democratic, Independent and Green Group (Digg) in an attempt to take the reins.
Conservative councillor for Mid-Formartine, Mr Gifford, said: “We are still hugely disappointed we are going to be removed from the council having done nothing wrong, made no mistakes and having had a good administration for the past three years.
“We are hugely disappointed that we are being thrown out of office because of the actions of a few people motivated by personal agendas.
“We signed up three years ago to a joint manifesto and were working our way through that. They are just making it up as they go along.”
The Aberdeenshire Alliance is made up of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents.
Today’s meeting is expected to lead to a total reshuffle of committee heads and could include the replacement of current provost, Jill Webster, and her deputy, Norman Smith.
SNP group leader, Hamish Vernal, said he was committed to an administration that would “think about the people of Aberdeenshire”, adding: “We’re thinking about the things we can do. It is a positive message, not negative one.
“We are looking at this positively. We are brimful of ideas within our partnership and within the SNP group and the Progressive Alliance. That’s the positive message we can put out.”
Liberal Democrat group leader, Karen Clark, said: “I think one of the problems is we have got no idea whether this new coalition that has been clubbed together just before the new council meeting will adopt the SNP manifesto, we don’t know where they are going to stand in political principle, where they might be.
“I think it will be very confusing for the voters, they will be scratching their heads.”
The coalition of the Progressive Alliance and the SNP was yesterday formally confirmed as the Partnership.
However, the announcement led Aberdeenshire Council chief executive Jim Savage to make a last minute change to item four on the agenda for today’s meeting.
The section in question considers the appointment of elected members to committees and other statutory bodies and groups.
Yesterday, an Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said the committee meeting would go ahead as planned and the amendments would not hinder it.
He added: “There is no change to the agenda. What happened this morning is that the chief executive was notified that the SNP group and the Progressive Alliance will be coming together as a coalition and will call themselves the Partnership.
However Banchory and Mid-Deeside councillor, Karen Clark, said the last minute change had caused “the horrible feeling of everything being unsettled and confused”.