The Scottish National Party has taken over the administration of South Lanarkshire Council for the first time, and Biggar’s Ian McAllan has been made provost just a fortnight after being elected as a nationalist councillor.
He is the second Clydesdale politician in succession to hold South Lanarkshire’s top civic post, taking over from Carluke Labour councillor Eileen Logan.
The nationalist move into minority control of the council was smoother than many expected.
At Thursday’s crunch meeting at council HQ in Hamilton to decide who runs the administration for the next five years, Labour, with its 21 councillors, stayed true to its word not to form pacts with either the SNP or Tories and sat on its hands, declining to take part in any of the votes as the major political posts in the council it controlled for 21 years were decided on.
Before May 4’s council election, some nationalists had predicted that Labour and the Conservatives would agree some form of coalition to keep the SNP out of power.
However, that did not happen, and the 27 nationalist councillors voted their own into all the main committee chairmanships, leaving the Conservatives, with a boosted representation of 14, five of them from Clydesdale, powerless to disrupt the SNP’s takeover of the council.
The nationalists did, however, hand chairmanship of the council’s Clydesdale area committee to Lanark and Forth area Conservative councillor Richard Elliot-Lockhart.
Apart from Mr McAllan’s elevation to provost, there were two other Clydesdale SNP councillors among the appointments made, with veteran Law and Carluke councillor David Shearer heading the licensing committtee with new Lanark and Forth area councillor Julia Marrs, of Kirkfieldbank, being elected as his depute.
After the meeting, the new leader of the council, Hamilton SNP councillor John Ross, said: “It is both a pleasure and a huge honour to become the first SNP leader of South Lanarkshire Council.
“It is my intention to govern for everyone in South Lanarkshire, no matter if they voted for the SNP or not.
“I will seek to find compromise with other elected members across our county and govern with openness and transparency.
“We will end the days of meetings behind closed doors and the isolationist agenda pursued by the previous administration.”