ABERDEENSHIRE faces five years of “infighting and stagnation” with a Tory-led coalition set to take charge of the council, the SNP have said.

The Conservatives had a great result in the region at the local elections on May 5, taking seats from independents, Greens, and Labour to wipe out the two parties and gain three councillors.

The 26 members of the Tory group make them the largest on the council, with five more seats than the SNP. However, no single party won enough seats to a majority on the 70-seat council.

On Tuesday evening, it was announced that the Conservatives had struck a deal with the LibDems (who have 14 seats) and the independent group (who have nine) to form a coalition on Aberdeenshire Council.

READ MORE: SNP and Greens eye coalition on Edinburgh Council amid political deadlock

The group is expected to formally take charge at a meeting on Thursday (May 19), continuing the arrangement which had been in place before the election.

Following the announcement, the SNP’s group leader Gwyneth Petrie said: “We are hugely disappointed by this decision, and fear that this will see another five years of infighting and stagnation for the administration of Aberdeenshire Council.

“The damage of Tory austerity policies and poor decision-making at Westminster are clear to see, and are evidently contributing to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. To see them back in administration in Aberdeenshire will be difficult for many to accept – and it is unlikely that they will deliver real help for those struggling in these difficult times.

“As the main opposition, we will do all we can to hold the administration to account, and keep the real focus of the council on assisting those who live throughout Aberdeenshire.

"The Tories led their campaign on ‘no to indyref’ rather than local issues – whether they can now really focus on working constructively for the common good of the people of Aberdeenshire remains to be seen, but history would suggest otherwise."

READ MORE: Labour lock SNP out of power in council via deal with two independent councillors

Gordon MP Richard Thomson, who previously led the Aberdeenshire SNP group, said the LibDems' choice of coalition partners was odd.

He said: “Given everything that has happened recently where the Conservatives have been front and centre – ranging from parties in Downing Street, to dodgy PPE contracts, to the cost-of-living crisis, to the disgraceful decision to offshore our responsibilities towards asylum seekers to Rwanda – it seems strange that the Liberal Democrats have looked at the options open to them and thought, ‘this is the party we wish to do business with’.

"It’s as if they have learned nothing from their time propping up the Conservatives at Westminster.

“What makes this all the more unfathomable is that there was the option to work in co-operation with the SNP on a progressive agenda which would not only have delivered for the people of Aberdeenshire, but provided some stability after the turbulence of the last five years which saw the Conservatives topple their own council leader and lose five councillors in defections and internal fights.

“I really hope we see none of the internal rancour we saw in the last five years from this administration because with the range of problems looming, not least of which is a cost-of-living crisis which will affect Aberdeenshire hugely, the council will need to focus all its attention on how it supports our communities.”