Power struggle at Dumfries and Galloway Council following election result

The fight to take control of Dumfries and Galloway Council is up in the air after last week’s election result.

By Marc McLean - Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 1:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 1:47 pm
Councillor Ian Blake, pictured with Councillor Pauline Drysdale, refused to rule out the Conservatives working with any other party

Just like in the previous three council elections, none of the main parties gained an outright majority to take charge and therefore another coalition administration is looking likely.Discussions are expected to take place between the Conservatives, SNP, and Labour groups over the coming days or weeks about a coalition potentially being formed.

However, this year’s result makes matters complicated because six independents and one Lib Dem councillor have also been elected – and they could hold the key to a swing in power.

The Conservatives have already declared they are “open to discussions” about forming a joint administration with either SNP or Labour.

Sign up to our daily The Galloway Gazette Today newsletter

The SNP will be more selective over a coalition partner

One long-serving SNP councillor has ruled out working with the Tories, while Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is against teaming up with the SNP.

Conservatives councillor Ian Blake, who was reelected to the Abbey Ward, said: “We’re always open to working with anybody.

"We have been in coalition with Labour in the past and we’ve been in coalition with SNP in the past too.

“We’re open to discussions.”

SNP councillor Andy Ferguson, re-elected in North West Dumfries, said: “I can say that there will be no discussions with one party – because we wouldn’t go into an administration with them.

“You can work out for yourself who that might be.”

Friday’s election result saw the Conservatives return as the largest party in Dumfries and Galloway, gaining 16 council seats just like in 2017.

The SNP gained 11 seats – also the same as 2017, while Labour lost two seats as nine candidates were appointed councillors.

Making the situation more complicated, independent councillor Dougie Campbell quit the SNP three months ago, while Jim Dempster quit Labour four months ago to go it alone.

The other independent councillors are: Denis Male (Annandale East and Eskdale), David Slater (Nith), Iain Howie (Castle Douglas and Crocketford), and Willie Scobie (Stranraer and the Rhins).Richard Brodie will represent Annandale South as the only Lib Dem.