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Council leadership decision a week away

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By Marc McLean, Local Democracy Reporter
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Council leadership decision a week away

THE new leadership of Dumfries and Galloway Council is to be announced next week.

A fresh administration will be put in place at the first council meeting of the new term, which kicks off next Tuesday (May 24) at the council headquarters in English Street, Dumfries.

It is still unclear which way the power will swing following one of the most interesting elections results since the council’s inception in 1995.

None of the main parties gained an overall majority, meaning that rival councillors will have to work together again to form a coalition administration.

The Conservatives are the largest party in the region, having secured 16 seats, while the SNP gained 11 seats, and Labour returned nine.

However, there are now six independents, and one Lib Dem councillor – and they could potentially have a big influence on who takes control of the council, along with key decisions in the future.

Long-serving independent councillor Willie Scobie said last week: “It’ll be interesting to see if those seven form an affiliation with SNP and Labour. That could then pull a majority administration together.

“Or there could be a few that want to side with the Tories, and they could form a minority administration. Very interesting times ahead.”

At next week’s council meeting, one councillor will be selected as council leader to replace the retired Elaine Murray, while another will be chosen as deputy leader in place of the outgoing Rob Davidson.

Decisions will then be made on which councillors will chair committees, such as planning and communities, and who will be appointed to key roles working with other outside bodies.

While negotiations are still to take place this week, Annandale North councillors Stephen Thompson and Gail Macgregor are frontrunners to become the new leader of the local authority.

Councillor Macgregor was last week appointed the leader of the Conservaties group, which is largest political party on the council.

Meanwhile, Councillor Thompson became the new leader of the SNP group, the second largest group.

New Lochar Councillor Linda Dorward has been chosen as head of the Labour group.

While there are difficulties between the Conservatives and SNP at national level, councillors Macgregor and Thompson have had a good working relationship together serving the Annandale North ward over the years.

Last week, both of them said they would “rule nothing out” when discussing forming a new council administration.

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