A veteran councillor who dramatically left the Liberal Democrat party today said she left the group as she believed they would form an “uncomfortable relationship” with the SNP.
Former Liberal Democrat councillor Jennifer Stewart, pictured, left the Lib Dems in a shock exit during a meeting of all councillors to form a new administration on Wednesday.
Cllr Stewart, who has been a councillor for a decade, instead chose to become an independent and join the Labour and Tory coalition along with her new Independent colleagues.
The Liberal Democrat group ruled out joining with any coalition early on in negotiations, saying they preferred to make decisions on a “case-by-case basis”.
Councillor Ian Yuill, who heads up the three-member Lib Dem group, said he first heard of councillor Stewart’s resignation when she announced it to the chamber on Wednesday.
Cllr Yuill said: “We had no prior notice or warning.
“We are very disappointed with Councillor Stewart’s behaviour especially as she was elected two weeks ago as a Liberal Democrat councillor with the full and active support of the local party.
“We all had our views on the options but the decision that was reached, after a great deal of discussion, was not to enter a coalition.
“She at no time said to us that she was planning to leave the Liberal Democrats and join the independents.”
But Cllr Stewart said during the negotiations period with her former group she expressed her concerns through the whole process and said they should side with the “rainbow coalition”.
She added: “What was happening was they were siding more and more with the SNP and that was a step too far for me. We would end up voting with the SNP. My concern was the Liberal Democrats would form an uncomfortable relationship with the SNP.”
SNP group leader Stephen Flynn has called for Cllr Stewart and nine suspended Labour councillors to resign and fight for their seats again in a by-election.
When asked if he supports such a call, Cllr Yuill said the nine former Labour councillors were “doing quite a good job of knocking lumps out of each other” without him getting involved.
He added: “We have been contacted by a number of people from the ward upset and angry about what Cllr Stewart has done.”
The Liberal Democrat councillor said he did not know why Cllr Stewart made the move.
He added: “That is a question that only Cllr Stewart can answer.”
Councillor Stewart said the call for a by-election was the SNP looking at “pseudo ways of creating a bit more publicity”.