A new Labour/SNP coalition took over the reins of Dumfries and Galloway Council this week after seven Conservatives quit, plummeting the group into chaos.
Claiming a lack of confidence in their leader, Ivor Hyslop, the members resigned last week leaving the council short.
So Labour and SNP members came to an agreement on Tuesday which saw them take over the helm, with Labour’s Ronnie Nicholson appointed as leader.
He said: “Although a Labour-led council is something I have always strived for, the post of council leader is not. I have accepted the position in order to deliver a Labour-led administration and, with it, the priorities of the many people who put their trust in Labour last May.
“I pledge that the council I lead will make building our local economy our number one priority.”
Conservative councillor for Mid Galloway, Graham Nicol, told the Gazette his group had been torn apart by a few who had “no political awareness”.
He said: “This whole situation has been brought about by the misguided ambitions of a few people who are totally unaware of the complexities of political life and have no political awareness whatsoever. This whole sad affair started with an attempted coup of the Conservative group, which left the people involved realising they had no real power and it became obvious as time progressed and they withdrew from the political process .
“At no time up until last week was there ever mention of a lack of confidence in the leader. The tributes to Ivor on his resignation were warm and sincere from all political leaders except the leader of the independent Conservative group, whose silence on this subject was noted. Unfortunately, the real losers here are the people of Dumfries and Galloway because we had one of the best councils in Scotland – widely acknowledged by local and non-local government.”
Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Alex Fergusson added: “While there have been obvious differences within the Conservative group of councillors, which I very much regret have been played out in the public domain, I was delighted that the honesty and integrity of the former leader, Ivor Hyslop, has now been recognised by the vast majority of councillors of all parties. For the sake of the council taxpayers of Dumfries and Galloway, I wish the new administration well.”