Cross-party group has seized control of council

A cross-party collective has seized control of Dumfries and Galloway Council as the local authority appointed co-leaders for the first time.

By Marc McLean - Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 5:48 pm
Councillors Stephen Thomson and Linda Dorward shake hands to seal the alliance which shut out the Tories
Councillors Stephen Thomson and Linda Dorward shake hands to seal the alliance which shut out the Tories

SNP group leader, Annandale North councillor Stephen Thompson, and Labour group leader, Lochar councillor Linda Dorward, have agreed to share the top job.

The move was agreed after SNP, Labour, Lib Dems and Independent councillors teamed up to form a rainbow alliance administration.

The opposition Conservatives – the largest group on the council with 16 elected members – had put forward Annandale North Councillor Gail Macregor to serve as council leader.

However, this was defeated on a 25-17 vote as SNP, Labour, one Lib Dems councillor, and five of the six independents joined forces.

Councillor Thompson shook the hand of Councillor Dorward as she joined him at the top table to lead the way for the council this term.

Councillor Thompson said: “Congratulations to everybody for getting elected, we are all here to do a job for Dumfries and Galloway Council and I look forward to working with all of you in the next session as we go forward.”

Councillor Macgregor had held discussions with the other political groups following the election on May 5, and said she was hoping to form an administration that was “as collaborative and inclusive as possible”.

She had congratulated the new leadership earlier in the council meeting, but was disappointed that the new alliance administration took charge of most of the key positions within council committees.

Councillor Macgregor said: “A vibrant, talented, visionary group of 16 have yet again been shut out of the main running of the council, which is incredibly unfortunate and doesn’t reflect the 38 percent of the vote we succeeded in getting.”While Councillors Thompson and Dorward will share the council leadership role, the former also takes on the local authority convener role, with the latter is his deputy in this lead civic role.This first council meeting gave an indication as to how difficult it may be for decision-making going forward.The first four matters on the agenda were forced to a vote, with the rainbow alliance siding together to outnumber the Conservatives.