Highland Council opposition leader Maxine Smith was given a senior planning role yesterday after a chivalrous rival stepped aside to avoid a cut of playing cards to decide the appointment.
The SNP group leader and Caithness independent councillor Donnie Mackay, who is a member of the council’s administration, shared a seven-all vote of colleagues choosing a chairman for the new, post-election north area planning committee.
Mr Mackay was then appointed her vice chairman – but only after a cut of cards following another 7-7 split vote.
His ‘three’ card beat Liberal Democrat Angela MacLean’s ‘two’.
In a rare sign of harmony between often disparate political groups on the council, the new office bearers even exchanged a peck on the cheek as a sign of mutual respect before taking up their seats at the top table in the Inverness chamber.
Speaking afterwards, Ms Smith described Mr Mackay’s gesture to step aside as “very gentlemanly.”
She added that she was looking forward to her new role, having previously been heavily involved in planning issues as well as heading a licensing committee.
Mr Mackay is barred from speaking on Caithness windfarm issues due to his open opposition to onshore turbines.
He said that would pose no problem because he would simply leave the chamber when such planning applications are debated.