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'We're ruling nothing out': party leaders on who will take control of Dumfries and Galloway Council

By Marc McLean & Dumfries and Galloway Standard

The newly-appointed leader of the largest political party on Dumfries and Galloway Council is openly looking to strike a power-sharing deal with opposition councillors.

At a meeting on Monday night, Annandale North Councillor Gail Macgregor was selected to replace Annandale South member Ian Carruthers as head of the local Conservatives group.

Shortly afterwards, Gail put her cards on the table by posting on Twitter: “Humbled to have been elected leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council Conservative group tonight.

“Looking forward to constructive discussions with other groups/independents to form a minority Scottish Conservatives administration.”

The following day, Gail said: “It’s very early days as other groups are putting together their leadership teams. So, we haven’t entered into any formal negotiations at the moment.

“There are difficulties nationally with some parties working with others, but my priority is to speak to everybody on the council and try to find a very constructive way of forming a functioning council which takes forward the priorities which the communities that elected us want.

“It’s about sitting down at the table and ruling nothing out.”

The Conservatives are the largest party in the region, having secured 16 seats. The SNP gained 11 seats, Labour returned nine, there were six independents, and one Lib Dems councillor was re-elected.

Councillor Macgregor, who has been a councillor since 2007, was re-elected to serve the Annandale North ward after gaining 1,153 votes.

Despite a Labour-SNP joint administration in the previous term, Conservative councillor Gail was appointed to serve as the council’s spokesperson at COSLA (the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities).

Meanwhile, her fellow Annandale North ward councillor Stephen Thompson has been appointed as leader of the SNP group.
Councillor Thompson said on Tuesday that no discussions had yet taken place with opposition parties about forming an administration.

He said: “I try to be as open as possible in not ruling anything out. The bookies might not put odds on us forming a relationship with the Conservative group for example, but you have to never rule out anything entirely just incase.”

The Labour group has yet to appoint its leader, but this is expected later in the week.

Two thirds of the Labour group are fresh faces, while councillors Archie Dryburgh, Sean Marshall, and Davie Stitt were re-elected for another term.

Annandale East and Eskdale Councillor Archie Dryburgh said: “We’ll be having a meeting later this week when we can get everyone together because some of the newly-elected members have been working.”

Negotiations will be taking place between political groups over the coming days about the potential for forming a joint administration.

The coalitions that formed following the previous elections were: 2017 – Labour-SNP, 2012 – Conservative-SNP, 2007 – Conservative-Lib Dems.

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Dive Deeper:
Former Dumfries Prison governor ditches working with convicts to step into politics
Linda Dorward has been elected to serve on Dumfries and Galloway Council in the latest twist in a very interesting…
Edinburgh Council negotiations continue as parties call for Labour clarity
One week on from the election, parties have called on Labour to clarify if they're ruling out a new deal…
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Councillors across the chamber in Livingston voted to give themselves more time for negations on the leadership and Provost for…
Labour bids to run Stockport council for another year - despite having fewer councillors than Lib Dems
Councillor Elise Wilson, Labour and town hall leader since 2018, has confirmed she will again stand for the top job…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
'Party politics' forced Dumfries and Galloway councillor to quit SNP just months before election
Dougie Campbell says that trust in politicians is "pretty low" at the moment and he wants electorate to be served…
Scottish Labour slammed after party hints it could work with hard-line Unionist
The SNP won the most councillors in North Lanarkshire but could still be shut out of power.
Get all your news in one place