The power struggle at Highland Council shows no sign of abating, with SNP members saying they feel “betrayed” by their former Liberal Democrat partners.
The accusation comes as talks continue about the creation of a new administration following the LibDems’ withdrawal from their previous agreement with the nationalists and Labour.
They are understood to be in talks with the Independent opposition group.
Last night, the new leader of the SNP group, councillor Maxine Smith, said her members were trying to ensure the council had a stable administration.
She added: “We will not, under any circumstances, re-engage with the Liberal Democrat group.
“Since the General Election and the total demise of their MPs in the 2015Highlands I have met with the LibDem group leader David Alston on several occasions confirming our stable status as an administration. He reassured me every time that it was business as usual.
“I trusted him and his group to put the people of the Highlands before party politics, therefore I was totally shocked when I heard the news of their abandonment of the council’s administration from the press and had to seek out their leader for confirmation before I would believe it.
“I feel not only let down and betrayed by someone I had a great deal of respect for, but also completely at a loss to understand why the Liberal Democrats would do this to the Highlands at a time when the council is performing so well.”
Councillor Alston hit back, saying: “A stable administration for the council has to be one which genuinely represents the Highlands and is prepared to speak up for the Highlands.
“The SNP in administration have failed to do that and for that reason we feel we can no longer work with them.”
Meanwhile councillor Jaci Douglas, Badenoch and Strathspey, has resigned from the Independent group after failing to become its leader.
Ms Douglas said: “This is a new phase for the group and I feel that I should step down immediately so the group can move forward as quickly and clearly as possible.
“I have been proud to be a member of the Independent group for the past eight years and more recently, the co-leader, and I will continue to be a strong voice, advocating for independent councillors as the best way forward for the good of the Highlands and Scotland.”
Former Independent group leader Carolyn Wilson said: “I was aware that Jaci was considering her position and, likewise, I am doing the same thing.”
The independent group is due to meet today to consider its next step.