LABOUR has conceded defeat in a “Better Together” council ruled by Unionist parties until the SNP took over as the largest party in the area.

SNP councillors are now in the process of planning the formation of an administration in Midlothian after picking up two extra seats in the area at the expense of the Tories who fell from five to three councillors.

But the party is just shy of the number required to take over the administration and SNP councillor Kelly Parry (below) said they are willing to work with Labour.

The National:

She told The National: “Labour are saying to us they are allowing us to take the lead to form an administration to take the lead.

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“They want to talk to us and we want to talk to them.

“That will take a wee bit of time and we will see where we agree and where we disagree and we can come to a formal decision ahead of [the first full council] meeting in a few weeks.

“If it comes to it we will take forward a minority SNP administration.”

Labour’s group leader Derek Milligan had previously run the minority administration in Midlothian which was propped up by the Tories.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “There will be discussions between the three parties to see what we can do but the SNP is the biggest party and we will be looking to them to take the lead.

“We do not intend to go into opposition like in Westminster. We will not oppose things just to oppose them.

“There are hard decisions to be made and we need to ensure we protect our services. Where we can find agreement we will work together and be pragmatic.”

Parry said discussions would be taking place over the coming weeks and an arrangement will need to be worked out by the end of May.

She added: “We want to find points of agreement and I’m sure Labour will be looking at the manifesto they ran on and we’re looking at ours and where we might agree, where we might disagree and where we might compromise.

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“We want to work for the betterment of all Midlothian communities no matter how voters voted.”

While Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has ruled out formal coalitions in council administrations, his instructions have been vague and leave open the possibility of informal arrangements with other parties.

He has also expressed a preference for forming minority administrations in councils where the party has large enough numbers.

The Tories are in last place in Midlothian out of the three parties. The SNP has said their councillors will not work with the Conservatives.

Midlothian is one of 21 councils where the SNP clinched the top spot, including Dundee - the only place they took an outright majority.