A veteran Aberdeen councillor has come under fire from opposition critics for a proposed move to take on a new post.
Independent councillor Jennifer Stewart has been put forward as the new convener of the city council’s pensions committee, taking over from depute provost Alan Donnelly.
The position would see her salary rise from the basic rate of £16,927 to £22,217, if approved by a meeting of all councillors on Wednesday.
Cllr Stewart surprised those in the council chamber when she chose to leave the Liberal Democrat group in May, and join the coalition as an Independent along with Labour and the Conservatives.
Speaking in June, the Independent councillor refuted suggestions from political rivals she had a position “lined up for herself” and said she had been given the post of vice-convener of planning – a non-renumerated post.
But criticising the proposed pensions post, SNP group leader Stephen Flynn, said: “People in Aberdeen may still be questioning the motivation of Cllr Stewart and what it is that is driving her to be such a devotee to the Tory-led plans of the council.
“Jennifer Stewart claims she didn’t jump ship for power or promotion or indeed Tory Gold, but I think the people of Aberdeen will be judging her by her actions, not her ever changing words.”
But Cllr Stewart said the position “came up naturally”.
She added: “There was really no one else to offer it too as they either have posts or work full time and didn’t want the post. It is about getting people coming together to run the city.
“I’m not being political, the two committees I have been put on are non-political.
“I will speak out if the SNP continue to have this pseudo-attack.
“They’re just trying to make news when there isn’t news to be made.
“It’s a pity Cllr Flynn isn’t looking to his esteemed leader to find out what they can do to support Aberdeen.”
On her decision to join the administration in May, Cllr Stewart said she felt the Liberal Democrats were becoming close to the SNP and claims her constituents were against her joining with the nationalists.
Cllr Stewart added: “My conscience is clear and I did the right thing.”
The position of pensions convener became available after former depute provost Tom Mason took on the role of North-east MSP following the election of Ross Thomson as Aberdeen South MP.
Cllr Mason’s previous position as depute provost was later succeeded by Conservative councillor Alan Donnelly who will step down from his role as pensions convener.