South Scotland

Borders council administration sees SNP replace Tories

Scottish Borders Council
Image caption The SNP has taken the place of the Conservatives in the ruling group at Scottish Borders Council

The SNP has replaced the Conservatives in a grouping with independents and Lib Dems to run Scottish Borders Council.

The role of leader will remain with independent David Parker who has held the post for the past nine years.

Lib Dem Graham Garvie will be convener with the SNP's John Mitchell taking a position as deputy leader.

The new administration will formally take office on 17 May and said it planned to publish its programme for running the council next week.

The previous ruling group was made up of an alliance of Conservatives, Lib Dems and Independents.

The Tories took the most seats at the recent elections but their place has now been taken by the SNP.

Speaking on behalf of the independent councillors, Michael Cook said: "We are pleased once again to be part of the administration of SBC and it is a mark of our success that David Parker is to lead the council for an historic third term.

"I am also pleased that Nicholas Watson and Sandy Aitchison have agreed to become independents and that nine independents will now contribute to the work of the new administration."

SNP spokesman Mr Mitchell said it was committed to working hard with its partners "for the good of the Scottish Borders".

"We look forward to the implementation of SNP policies including widening the democratic accountability of SBC," he said.

Deputy Lib Dem leader Catriona Bhatia said her party had made a "significant contribution" to the last administration and hoped to do so again.

"What is important to us is ensuring that our policy programme is at the heart of the new administration's thinking," she said.

Mr Aitchison confirmed that he and fellow Borders Party member Mr Watson would work as independents in the new administration.

He stressed they remained "sceptical" about the benefits of the Borders railway project but wanted to "play an important part in the governance of the Scottish Borders".

Conservative group leader Jim Fullarton said: "We hope the new coalition will have the necessary cohesion to provide a stable administration for the Borders.

"We are disappointed not to be part of the new administration and saddened by the decisions of our former colleagues in the independent and Liberal groups.

"We have always put the best interests of the Borders above party politics, and will provide a constructive contribution to the administration as we go forward."

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