ABERDEENSHIRE Council’s ruling rainbow coalition has restored its overall majority by bringing the authority’s only two Labour councillors into the administration.
Two months ago the alliance of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents was left clinging to power by a knife edge following the surprise resignation of Ian Tait, a key Independent on the administration.
His resignation left Aberdeenshire a hung council - with 34 councillors remaining in the rainbow administration and 34 opposition councillors, dominated by the 28-strong Scottish National Party Group.
But it was revealed today that Aberdeenshire’s two Labour councillors, Raymond Christie and Alison Evison, have joined the ranks of the coalition, giving the administration a four vote majority.
Neither councillor could be contacted to comment on the move. But their decision was condemned by Councillor Hamish Vernal, the leader of the SNP Group.
He declared: “This might come as a surprise to the voters who elected Labour’s two councillors, but it’s hardly a surprise for anyone who has been watching how they have behaved since May.
“Time after time, Councillors Evison and Christie have voted slavishly in support of the Tory-led administration, even to the extent of voting against plans to increase the support available to classroom assistants.”
He claimed: “The administration is clearly trying to shore up its increasingly shaky anyone-but the-SNP alliance of convenience. However, I can’t imagine that many of the Independents in the administration will be too thrilled about having to explain to their voters that they have allied themselves with yet another party – especially when that party is Labour.
“At least now this arrangement is out in the open, voters will be able to see clearly how Labour’s councillors are happy to put their support of Tory and Liberal policies ahead of their principles.”
Councillor Christie represents Stonehaven and Lower Deeside on the council while Ms Evison is a North Kincardine councillor.
Councillor Jim Gifford, the Conservative leader of the council, said: ‘We very much welcome Alison and Raymond to the Alliance Group. Since the election last year, the Alliance has worked well together and worked well for the whole of Aberdeenshire.”
He added: “The strength of the Alliance Group has been our ability to work together without party politics getting in the way, in the best interests of our constituents. We look forward to that continuing with our new group.”
Councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of the administration, said: “I am delighted that the Scottish Labour Group is joining the Alliance as we approach our first year in office. It will bring added substance and depth to the administration. It also confirms the inclusive nature of the Aberdeenshire Alliance.”
Councillor Evison said: “Our membership of the Alliance will give it important strength and stability. We are very pleased to be able to work together in a spirit of mutual trust and respect to ensure that Aberdeenshire delivers the best possible services.”