The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

Shape of Perth Council becomes clear after coalition talks.

Top team being put together as party joins with two other political groups

- JaMie buchan

The Tories are forming a new coalition administra­tion for Perth and Kinross with two other political groups, it has emerged.

The new top team is being put together after last week’s election shook up the political landscape.

The Conservati­ves became the region’s biggest party with 17 councillor­s – up from 10 in 2012 – while the SNP slipped from 17 to 15.

Although no official announceme­nt has been made, The Courier understand­s the administra­tion will now be formed by the Tories, along with the Liberal Democrats and the Independen­ts.

Party leaders have been thrashing out a deal at a series of private meetings since Monday morning.

The new administra­tion will not be officially confirmed until the next meeting of the full council, on Wednesday. A new leader and provost are also expected to be appointed.

There are four Liberal Democrats and three Independen­t councillor­s, including the area’s youngest councillor, Xander McDade.

The local Labour Party lost three seats and was almost wiped out but party candidate Alisdair Bailey was elected for the Carse of Gowrie ward.

Councillor­s yesterday were keeping tight-lipped about the agreement, which is thought to have been struck on Thursday evening. An announceme­nt is likely to be made early next week.

Speaking after the election count, Conservati­ve group leader Ian Campbell said it would be a “difficult year or two” for the area as new councillor­s face “a steep learning curve”.

He said: “It will be hard work for those newly elected and those old heads on the council will have to work hard to guide them and ensure that things go smoothly.”

He added: “There are a great many excellent things happening within Perth and Kinross, including the Tay Cities Deal and the City of Culture 2021 bid, and we hope to achieve much for the people of Perth and Kinross.”

A total of 15 councillor­s stood down before the election, including leader Ian Miller and Provost Liz Grant.

Councillor­s John Kellas, Alistair Munro, Douglas Pover, Ann Gaunt, Dave Cuthbert, Alan Livingston­e and Elspeth Maclachlan all lost their seats. There are 22 new councillor­s. On paper, it seems like a seismic shift. Until last Friday, Perth and Kinross Council was led by a minority SNP administra­tion.

Now the Tories look set to take charge, propped up by the Liberal Democrats and three Independen­ts.

Politicall­y the Conservati­ves and the SNP are poles apart, so constituen­ts should expect some major changes over the coming years.

However, there’s a good chance the transition could be a smooth one.

Previous leader Ian Miller always tried to keep politics out of the council chamber (although it would seep in whenever there was an election on the horizon).

The SNP’s legacy for Perth and Kinross includes millions spent on schools and substantia­l investment in the area’s cultural offerings – things that cross-party councillor­s have largely been agreed upon.

But there are other projects that could fare less well. Tory leader Ian Campbell had previously criticised plans for an £8.2 million River Tay heat pump plan. And now, with the scheme’s main champion John Kellas out of the picture, its future could be in serious doubt.

 ?? Picture: Steve MacDougall. ?? Conservati­ve councillor­s celebrate after the results were announced at Bell’s Sports Centre, Perth.
Picture: Steve MacDougall. Conservati­ve councillor­s celebrate after the results were announced at Bell’s Sports Centre, Perth.

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