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There could be trouble ahead

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By Marc McLean, Local Democracy Reporter
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There could be trouble ahead

A ROCKY road lies ahead for Dumfries and Galloway Council after last Friday’s election result, one long-serving councillor warned this week.

Willie Scobie, who has served on the council since its inception in 1995, predicts instability and difficulties with decision-making because of the political make-up of the new council.

Sixteen Conservatives, 11 SNP, nine Labour, one Lib Dem, and six independents mean that rival councillors will have to form a coalition to form the council administration and get work done.
And with the independents not affiliated to any party – and some of them ex-Labour, Tory, and SNP members – there is potential for power to swing in different directions.
“You always want a majority administration because otherwise it could be pulled down at any time,” said Councillor Scobie, who represents Stranraer and the Rhins.
He added: “It may follow that there is an understanding issue by issue – which is no real administration, but there’s a working relationship between two parties.
“It then also depends on what way the independents go.”
Despite the Conservatives gaining most seats in 2017, the SNP and Labour teamed up to take charge of the council.
The previous term, the Conservatives and SNP got cosy and led the administration.
Having been re-elected every term on Dumfries and Galloway Council, Mr Scobie has seen it all with political rivals getting together and forming unexpected partnerships to lead the local authority.
“At one time there was a rainbow alliance,” he said. “That was all the political parties, bar the Tories.
“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.”
Councillor Scobie is classed as one of the six independents on the new council, although he prefers to identify as a socialist councillor rather than independent.
Those six independents and the single Lib Dem councillor, Richard Brodie, could be pivotal in determining who takes control of the council in 2022.
Councillor Scobie said: “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.”

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