New council leader vows to work with all parties
ELLIE FORBES email@example.com
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.