The shape of things to come

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FOLLOWING their recent election success, the SNP in Angus have reshuffled their hierarchy for a new term of office.

Kirriemuir and Dean councillor Iain Gaul has assumed the mantle of leadership following the abdication of Carnoustie councillor Helen Oswald. Other changes have seen Montrose councillor Paul Valentine take on the role of depute leader with Brechin and Edzell councillor Mairi Evans becoming group party secretary.

Councillor Gaul is keen to depart from the divisive politics of the last council and usher in a new era of co-operation. He explained: “We have an absolute majority. I have the option of forcing anything through, provided it’s legal.

“However, we, the SNP group, have already come to the consensus of opinion that that’s not what we will do. We want to be open and inclusive, we want to have 29 councillors working for Angus, not just 15, so we will work together. We will change things to make it easy for non-administration councillors to be included in decisions on the way forward.”

To this end Mr Gaul has already offered olive branches to all the 14 non-SNP councillors who were voted in last week. He said: “I’ve already ‘phoned round the non-administration councillors offering them the hand of friendship. We’re not going down the same road as the last five years.”

However, whether this new approach will be accepted remains to be seen. Councillor Gaul said: “I have had a slightly mixed reaction from some of them. We would be disappointed if it was refused, I hope they don’t.”

Mr Gaul has already set some objectives, with the rest due to be discussed at the statutory meeting of Angus Council on May 15. He explained: “In general terms we will strive to make Angus Council back into one of the best run councils in Scotland, delivering high quality services as economically as we possibly can. Also as a matter of urgency is the provision of affordable accommodation. There is a dire need for rented accommodation throughout Angus.”

He concluded: “We need to look at how the council works and be there for what the people need. We have to be a forward looking council. No one group, however talented can do that. That must be done with the co-operation of as many members on the Angus Council as possible.”