THE SNP have pleaded with Labour councillors in Moray not to hand the Tories power over the administration.

The Conservatives’ result in the local authority area bucked the national trend, seeing them return 11 councillors, three more than they’d had before the vote. They became the largest party on the 26-seat council.

The Tories need three votes at a crunch meeting to be held on Wednesday in order to take control of the council.

READ MORE: 'Grubby' Labour-Tory deal set to lock SNP out of power on Scottish council

Before the elections the administration was run by an SNP minority who had taken power after the Conservatives had walked out of the previous one. However, a Tory coup just months before the election had failed only because of the cut of a deck of cards.

After winning the most seats at the elections, the Tories fancy their chances of forming the next administration. However, the SNP would also like to remain in control.

Both parties will put their cases to the other members of the council – three Labour councillors, one Green, one LibDem, and two independents – at a vital full-council meeting on Wednesday.

Ahead of the vote, SNP MSP for Moray Richard Lochhead urged the Labour candidates not to back the Tories.

He said: “Moray councillors have a big decision to make as to who will lead the council over the next five years. Over the last two weeks my SNP councillor colleagues have been working hard to come to an agreement with progressive councillors in Moray about the best way forward.

“The reality is only the SNP or the heartless, intolerant, right-wing Tories can lead the Moray Council and a Tory administration would be a disaster for Moray and for local services."

Lochhead, who is also the Scottish Government's employment minister, went on: “Boris Johnson’s Tories have an appalling track record and during their last stint in administration they created absolute chaos, taking the huff and walking out on all responsibility. It was left to SNP and independent councillors to pick up the pieces and to work together to get the council’s finances back on track.

“People across Moray need Labour and other councillors to do the right thing, to put the needs and interests of their communities first. Labour councillors in Moray have a big choice to make. They can either work with the SNP to deliver a stable administration that wants to mitigate the impact of the Tory’s cost of living crisis, or they can sit on their hands and hand the keys of power to the Tories.”

Moray Labour said they had been approached by both the Conservatives and the SNP, but were not minded to support either.

They said in a statement: “The Labour Group has been approached by both aspirant administrations to seek our support. We made a number of key commitments to voters in the recent elections to the Moray Council, including scrapping brown bin recycling charges and restoring school lollipop crossings. Regrettably, neither group was able to commit to implementing these relatively modest but hugely popular policies. Consequently, we will not be supporting either of the proposed administrations.

“We suggest that Richard Lochhead speaks to his ministerial colleague, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. If the SNP Government actually stumped up the cash to support some fairly basic services then we might have been able to do a deal, but as things stand both the SNP and Tories mean yet more cuts to local services.

“If Richard Lochhead wants to win us over, he has a funny way of going about it.”