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Aberdeenshire SNP group elects new leader

By David Porter

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Councillor Gwyneth Petrie, who represents Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford, has been elected as the new leader of the SNP Council Group in Aberdeenshire.

The vacancy arose following the election of the previous Group leader, councillor Richard Thomson, as the MP for Gordon.

Councillor Stephen Smith will remain in his position as deputy leader.

Councillor Petrie has been a councillor since 2015, when she was elected in a by-election.

Commenting, councillor Petrie who as been in her role since a by-election win in 2015 said: “It is an honour to become the leader of the SNP Group in Aberdeenshire.

“I’m stepping in to this position at a deeply challenging time for Aberdeenshire, and all of the people who we represent here.

"Our priority at this time absolutely has to be steering Aberdeenshire through this pandemic, and that will rightly mean working collaboratively with colleagues across the Council.

“Once we are through this pandemic, then we can focus once again on delivering the priorities of our group, which have been well established under the excellent leadership of councillor Thomson, and continuing to hold the administration to account.”

Offering his congratulations to Councillor Petrie, outgoing Group leader Richard Thomson said: "I'd like to offer Gwyneth my warmest congratulations on her election.

"She's someone who since her election has earned great respect both inside and outside the council in her community.

"I know she'll do a fantastic job in holding the current political leaders to account as we prepare to offer SNP leadership of the council once more.

"It has been an enormous privilege to have served as SNP Group Leader since 2015 and to have had the opportunity to lead the SNP Group into administration for the first time in the council's history.

"I am pleased to have been able to play my part in shaping Aberdeenshire for the better as both council leader and opposition leader, and to be able to hand over a group which is in good health and which is once again the largest group on Aberdeenshire Council.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin said: “I am absolutely delighted that Gwyneth has been appointed as the leader of the opposition at Aberdeenshire Council.

“I’ve known and worked with Gwyneth for many years and she is somebody who understands the challenges and numerous opportunities we have locally, and can lead the SNP group with drive to deliver on our shared goals of progressiveness and fairness.

"I have no doubt that she will be an excellent leader when the time comes for the SNP to take back the administration of Aberdeenshire Council.

“I care enormously about the empowerment of women in politics and so I am particularly pleased to see a young mum with skills, knowledge and expertise being promoted to the role, and decisively commanding the confidence of her colleagues.

“I wish Gwyneth all the best as she takes on the role of leader of the opposition and offer my full support to her and her team."

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