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Leaders’ panel plan

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Leaders' panel plan

THE  leaders of four political groups on Dumfries and Galloway Council will attempt to work together for the betterment of the region in a newly-created ‘leader’s panel’.

With the political make-up of the council unusual this term, special arrangements are being made to bring rival politicians together and ensure effective decision-making for constituents.
The panel will see council co-leaders Stephen Thompson (SNP) and Linda Dorward (Labour) hold regular meetings with Gail Macgregor (Conservatives) and Richard Brodie (Independents) to thrash out solutions to important issues.
A report detailing the panel will go before the full council meeting this week. It states “initial emphasis could be given to the cost of living crisis”.
A priority for the panel is also to support high profile challenges for the council and suggests “emphasis could be given to road maintenance”.
The council report also states: “The shared endeavour about serving our communities should be embedded across all our elected members and services.
“The new council can learn from this work in shaping its arrangements.
“Elected members need to lead by example in setting the tone and culture by working together and also working with senior officers more closely.”
A budget panel involving finance leads from all political groups, along with a business bureau comprising business manager councillors from all groups, is also being proposed.
However, there are doubts over whether this collaborative working between political rivals can work.
The council administration is pieced together by a ‘rainbow alliance’ of councillors, with 11 SNP, nine Labour, and seven independent councillors teaming up to seize control from the Conservatives – which is the biggest group with 16 elected members.
Shortly after the elections, long-serving councillor Willie Scobie spoke about the trouble with a previous rainbow alliance council administration in Dumfries and Galloway.
The independent councillor said: “It just didn’t work. They had 25 priorities – and delivered nothing.
“It was counter-productive. It didn’t do what they set out to do because everybody fell back into their own political agenda.”

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