Banchory councillor claims Alliance group is ‘anti-SNP’

Linda Clark
Linda Clark

Banchory and Mid Deeside councillor Linda Clark has described Aberdeenshire Council’s new administration as an “anti-SNP group”.

The Aberdeenshire Alliance took charge of Aberdeenshire Council for the first time last week with Conservative Jim Gifford (Mid Formartine) appointed as leader after his party joined forces with the Liberal Democrats and nine Independent members.

Lib Dem group leader Martin Kitts-Hayes (Inverurie and District) has taken over as deputy leader.

The Alliance group came together after the Conservatives and Liberals cited internal divisions among the SNP, the largest party, and possible personality clashes as reasons why they could not form coalitions.

However, SNP member Linda Clark believes the other parties came together to prevent the nationalists from leading the council.

She said: “The new coalition represents an anti-SNP group whose aim is to ensure the will of the Aberdeenshire people is thwarted.

“The local elections on May 3 should have been about electing people who would support the continuance of appropriate local services.

Historically local councillors of every hue work together on committees and get the job done.

“However this new ruling group does not represent fair play and will not help change constituents’ perception that politicians do not have their interests at heart.”

SNP councillors were consistently beaten by Alliance members for leading positions within the various committees at the first full council meeting of the new session.

Peter Argyle (Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside) was elected to chair the Infrastructure Service committee while Karen Clark (Banchory and Mid Deeside) is to chair the Social Work and Housing committee.

Westhill councillor Ron McKail was voted in as vice-chair of the Education, Learning and Leisure committee.

Richard Thomson (Ellon and District), was the only SNP councillor to secure a place on the committees, becoming vice-chair of scrutiny and audit.

Westhill and District councillor Iris Walker dismissed SNP claims that council voting was “anti-democratic”.

She said: “The voting system in the chamber is open, transparent and democratic.

“The Alliance administration will bring experience and continuity to Aberdeenshire Council as well as embracing fresh ideas from new members and new policy committee Chairs.”

Cllr Karen Clark also believes that the diversity of the new administration will benefit the people of Aberdeenshire.

She said: “Each party will bring fresh and different ideas to the table. If councillors have mutual respect for each other then it should be the people who will see a difference over the next five years.”

The Banchory councillor says she is looking forward to the challenge of chairing the Social Work and Housing committee.

“The appointment was a surprise but I’m delighted,” said Karen Clark.

“It will be difficult with budgets during this time but I am ready for the challenge.

“I have had five years experience on the committee and I know there is a highly motivated team who will be aiming to do the best they can for local people.”

Banchory and Mid Deeside councillor Jill Webster said she was “delighted and privileged” after being voted in as the area’s first female Provost at the meeting in Woodhill House.

“I look forward to being an ambassador for Aberdeenshire by promoting everything we have to offer not only locally but also throughout Scotland, the UK and internationally,” she said.

“I am passionate about Aberdeenshire and I would like to promote our fantastic assets-as a great place to live, for leisure, for doing business and for inward investment.”

The new Provost is hopeful that all parties will be able to put their differences in order to create a better future for Aberdeenshire.

Provost Webster said: “To date, Aberdeenshire has always been a consensual council and we have worked together for the benefit of the residents of Aberdeenshire.

“We have managed to avoid politics getting in the way of this and I would very much like to see us continue in that manner working together in a positive, progressive and constructive manner.”