May 18 2012 by Colin Rutherford, Kilmarnock Standard
EAST Ayrshire Council is now under the control of an SNP/Conservative coalition.
The two parties announced on Tuesday that they had reached agreement on a joint administration.
Under the deal – scheduled to be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the full council today (Thursday) – the SNP will take the posts of Provost and council leader, while the Tories will hold the depute leader position.
The agreement strengthens the existing relationship between two parties.
For the last five years East Ayrshire has been run by a minority SNP administration which relied on Conservative support to out-vote the Labour opposition group – but not a formal coalition.
This month’s elections saw the SNP increase its council representation by one seat to 15 – leaving it the largest party, but two short of an overall majority.
The Tories lost one seat, but still have the crucial two councillors.
Labour holds 14 seats, and there is one independent councillor.
SNP council leader Douglas Reid said: “This agreement is good news for the people of East Ayrshire.
“The previous SNP administration had a proven track record on successful delivery, from new schools and council housing to town centre regeneration and business enterprise. We believe this was recognised by the public as we were returned as the largest party. However, my approach has always been inclusive, When it comes to local matters, we worked well with the Conservatives in the past and we want to build on this.”
Councillor Reid said that both parties agreed that the interests of local people come first and that this was enshrined in their agreement.
He said: “We recognise the challenges ahead, but we also know that we are stronger together and that we can maintain the good progress already underway.”
Conservative chief and new depute council leader Tom Cook said: “Over the past five years we have informally given our support to the SNP.
“During this time we have seen many improvements to the appearance of our towns and villages and to the services provided across East Ayrshire.
“With the SNP gaining the highest number of seats in the recent elections we entered early discussions with them to seek a way of continuing our support to further enhance these improvements, whilst strengthening our position within council.”
Councillor Cook said that the two parties recognised that they had fundamental differences on independence and reserved the right to state their case outside the council chamber.
He said: “However, the role of a local councillor is to work to secure maximum benefit for the local people. I believe that is best served by the agreement we have reached.
“The future of the United Kingdom will be decided by other means at the appropriate time.”
In South Ayrshire, meanwhile, Labour and the Conservatives have teamed up to run the council.
In North Ayrshire an announcement was expected on Wednesday that the SNP would form an administration with the support of independent councillors.