SCOTTISH Labour have entered a coalition with the SNP to take joint control of a local authority – despite Anas Sarwar explicitly ruling out just such an arrangement.

Dumfries and Galloway Council will be run by a joint SNP-Labour administration, though the Conservatives are the largest group.

The local elections on May 5 saw very little change in the numbers on Dumfries and Galloway, with the Tories (16), SNP (11), and LibDems (one) all returning the same number of seats as they had before the vote.

Labour did drop two councillors to return nine, while independents gained two to have a total of six.

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The Labour losses meant that the party’s coalition with the SNP could no longer command a majority on the 43-seat council, as it had done before the elections.

However, the support of independents at a council vote held on Tuesday has seen a return to that arrangement.

Despite Scottish Labour leader Sarwar’s explicit ban on formal coalitions, each party will have one co-leader on Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Councillor Stephen Thompson will hold the post for the SNP, as well as serving as convener, while Councillor Linda Dorward will be council co-leader for Labour.

Finlay Carson, the Conservative MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, branded the arrangement the “ultimate coalition of chaos”.

He wrote on Twitter: “This really is the ultimate coalition of chaos!

“The electorate of [Dumfries and Galloway] voted for change, a change from the failed Labour/SNP administration … now despite their reduced numbers they along with the ‘Independents’ have put them back in power!”

The SNP’s Thompson said: “We’ve got a big job ahead of us, but we’ve found a constructive way to work together to deliver the best outcomes for the region.

"The people of Dumfries and Galloway expect all councillors to work together to put recovery from the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis front and centre. The SNP council group will commit to working with all parties to create and deliver a joint council plan that is both ambitious and inclusive."

Scottish Labour have been approached for comment.