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New Fort William and Ardnamurchan LibDem councillor Angus MacDonald is one of a number of voices this week slamming the newly announced SNP/Independent coalition formed to run Highland Council.
Mr MacDonald echoed remarks from Craig Harrow, the LibDem candidate for Ross Skye and Lochaber, who claimed voters who backed independent candidates will be ‘bitterly disappointed’ and ‘feeling let down’ that they have chosen to put the SNP in as leaders of the new council.
LibDem candidates came third in the overall totals for councillors, taking 15 ward seats.
Mr Harrow added: ‘The SNP have so short-changed Lochaber for years. There will be independent councillors who will be in such a dilemma given that so many voters trusted them to protect them from yet more cuts from the centralising nationalists.’
Mr MacDonald was equally scathing, telling the Lochaber Times: ‘I imagine many Independent voters will be very disappointed to find their vote used to support the SNP – many would have been voting Independent as a protest at the way the SNP are mismanaging so many things, from CalMac to the economy.’
The two largest groups on Highland Council say they intend to run a joint council administration.
Following the recent local authority elections, the SNP topped the polls with 22 councillors, followed by the Independents with just one less.
Although senior positions are still to be confirmed, it’s expected that Councillor Raymond Bremner will take up the reins as leader of Highland Council.
Mr Bremner is currently leader of the SNP group and navigated a successful joint budget with the previous administration.
Talks between the two groups continued most of Monday, prior to an official announcement on Tuesday.
Former convenor Councillor Bill Lobban is tipped to become deputy leader, although this has yet to be announced.
Mr Lobban took over as leader of the Independent group following Margaret Davidson’s decision to retire.
The decision to form a joint council administration was ratified by the SNP and Independents late Monday afternoon.
Mr Bremner said: ‘I’d like to thank the leadership of the Independent group for their time during our amicable discussions over the past week.
‘We have had the ability to discuss a number of things relating to council and we look forward to forming a joint administration that will provide a stable basis on which to take council forward for the new term.’
Mr Lobban, as leader of the Independent group, said: ‘I look forward to working closely with Councillor Bremner and the SNP group over the next five years. This agreement will provide a settled, long-lasting administration and we will work together for the benefit of the people of the Highlands.’
Highland Council will announce further senior positions over the coming days. These will be ratified at the first full meeting of the new Highland Council next Thursday May 26.