South Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway Council future shape decision delayed

Dumfries and Galloway Council
Image caption The council will meet again within the next week to try to clear up its political shape

A decision on the political shape of Dumfries and Galloway Council after the resignation of seven Conservative councillors has been put on hold.

A meeting will be held within the next week to try to take things forward.

The ruling Conservative-SNP alliance had tabled proposals which would have seen it continue to run the authority but give some roles to other groups.

However, a Labour motion to defer a decision to allow "other propositions" to be considered was voted through.

It was agreed by 26 votes to 18.

The meeting followed the resignation of seven Conservative councillors from their political group due to a "loss of confidence" in leader Ivor Hyslop.

It reduced the number of administration members from 25 to 18 which is no longer an outright majority on the 47-member council.

Mr Hyslop told councillors he believed there had been "real progress" in his time in charge of the Conservative-SNP alliance.

He said that in response to the resignations, they had offered a place in the administration to the Labour group to allow for a "fresh start".

"It is a matter of great regret that this offer has been rejected," he said.

Instead, he tabled proposals aimed at allowing the current administration to continue.

They would have filled the roles left empty by the councillors who resigned, as well as allowing a Labour councillor to chair the authority's scrutiny committee.

The moves would also have seen the creation of an ad hoc committee to examine the development of the role of "constructive opposition".

SNP group leader Brian Collins backed that plan although he also expressed regret a three-party coalition had been rejected.

"How many times have we been asked by our constituents - why can't you all just work together?" he asked.

He said the last 10 days had damaged the council's reputation but the moves being proposed were an attempt to tackle that.

Ronnie Nicholson, who leads the Labour group, dismissed the offer of a place in the administration from parties, which he said had consistently voted down anything suggested by his councillors.

He said the new proposals showed the SNP and Conservatives were "joined at the hip" in Dumfries and Galloway.

He highlighted the fact that the SNP group was not seeking to take over leadership of the council when it was now the biggest group on the administration as "ridiculous".

'On its knees'

He claimed that under the current administration the region had become an "economic basket-case".

Independent group leader Jane Maitland said she preferred "consensus politics" and would have been "very happy" to see three parties in the ruling coalition.

While Ian Carruthers, who led the Conservative resignations, said the reputation of the authority was now "on its knees".

Mr Hyslop then attempted to get councillors to vote on his proposals in a bid to "give stability" to the authority.

However, they rejected that move preferring to delay a decision to consider alternative options to continuing with the current administration.

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