South Scotland

Conservatives weigh up Dumfries and Galloway Council control bid

Group leaders Image copyright Dumfries and Galloway Council
Image caption Ian Carruthers, right, said his group hoped to replace the Labour-SNP coalition led by Elaine Murray and Rob Davidson

The Conservative group on Dumfries and Galloway Council is hoping to replace its minority Labour-SNP administration.

The local authority agreed a council tax rise of 4.8% on Thursday.

However, its budget will not be set until late March and the Conservatives hope their financial plans could be backed by other political groups.

Group leader Ian Carruthers said a recent by-election result in the region gave them a mandate.

Dumfries and Galloway Council political make-up

PartyCouncillors
Conservatives15
SNP10
Labour9
Independents4
Socialists2
Lib Dem1
Non-Affiliated1
Non-Aligned1
Source: Dumfries and Galloway Council

"We want to be an administration, we haven't had that," he said.

"We think Dumfries and Galloway would be better served with a Conservative-led administration.

"We have got the mandate, we got 62% of the vote at the by-election."

Council leader Elaine Murray said she felt there was an opportunistic element to the move.

Image copyright Billy McCrorie
Image caption The council has set tax levels but will finalise its spending plans next month

"We are a minority administration, it will all depend on what the other groups feel," she said.

"There is always the possibility that the Conservatives will take over.

"I should imagine they will be a lot more motivated to take over this year because things are not nearly as difficult.

"It was quite marked that they didn't bother to produce a budget last year when life was extremely hard and when things are a little bit easier they are actually prepared to produce a budget."

'Negotiate sensibly'

Depute leader, Rob Davidson of the SNP, said he was hopeful the ruling coalition could retain control.

"The Conservatives are always at liberty to try and establish a new administration - if they can gain the support for it," he said.

"I hope that if we negotiate sensibly and listen carefully to our colleagues in other political groups we will be able to build the support that we'll need to get our full budget through in March."

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