New coun­cil leader vows to work with all par­ties

The Oban Times - - News -

EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­

IN­DE­PEN­DENT coun­cil­lor Mar­garet David­son has vowed to work with all par­ties as she was re­in­stated as leader of the High­land Coun­cil last week.

The Aird and Loch Ness coun­cil­lor served as leader in the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion for al­most two years. Last Thurs­day, at the first full meet­ing of the coun­cil since the elec­tion, Ms David­son said it was a ‘priv­i­lege’ to be leader of the lo­cal author­ity.

She said she in­tends to ‘take for­ward this coun­cil in the same in­clu­sive cross-party way that was done last time’.

Coun­cil­lor David­son will be joined by Bill Lob­ban as con­vener, who used the first meet­ing to ac­knowl­edge chal­lenges fac­ing the new ad­min­is­tra­tion.

He said: ‘There will be dif­fi­cult times ahead and I have no doubt that this coun­cil, its mem­bers and staff will weather the storms ahead and will con­tinue to do our best for the peo­ple of the High­lands.’

Lib­eral Demo­crat group leader Alas­dair Christie has taken on the role of deputy leader, fol­low­ing the agree­ment of a three-way coali­tion with his party, the in­de­pen­dents and Labour.

SNP coun­cil­lor Max­ine Smith will lead the op­po­si­tion with her 22 fel­low mem­bers, and 10 Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lors.

Dur­ing the meet­ing there was a power strug­gle be­tween the SNP and the Con­ser­va­tives as group leader Cal­lum Smith went up against his SNP coun­ter­part for leader of the op­po­si­tion.

A stand­ing or­der is in place in­di­cat­ing the leader of the op­po­si­tion should come from the largest party outwith the ad­min­is­tra­tion, in this case the SNP.

But newly-elected Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor Andrew Jarvie called for a sus­pen­sion to the or­der to en­able Mr Smith to lead the op­po­si­tion.

A two-thirds ma­jor­ity is re­quired to sus­pend the or­der, and with only 11 of the 74 coun- cil­lors in favour, the mo­tion was de­feated.

Fol­low­ing her nom­i­na­tion, Max­ine Smith said: ‘ As an SNP group we want to work con­struc­tively for the good of the High­lands where pos­si­ble but ob­vi­ously as the op­po­si­tion we will scru­ti­nise and chal­lenge where ap­pro­pri­ate.’

Ear­lier this month a coali­tion of three was agreed. The lead­ers of the In­de­pen­dent group (28), the Lib­eral Demo­crat Group (10) and Labour Group (three) agreed to work to­gether.

Speak­ing af­ter Thurs­day’s meet­ing, Caol and Mal­laig coun­cil­lor Ben Thomp­son said: ‘I’m glad that the new leader, Mar­garet David­son, and new con­vener, Bill Lob­ban, have made a com­mit­ment to giv­ing more con­trol of our bud­gets back to Lochaber. I’m look­ing for­ward to hold­ing them to that.’

The next coun­cil meet­ing will take place on June 1 to dis­cuss how the coun­cil will or­gan­ise its work.

Mean­while, in the Western Isles, coun­cil­lor Rod­die Mackay has been elected to serve as leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. There were two nom­i­na­tions for the post of leader, Rod­die Mackay and Don­ald Man­ford, but Mr Mackay was voted in 18 to 13.

Coun­cil­lor Nor­man A Mac­don­ald has been re-elected to serve as con­vener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

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