THE path appears clear for the SNP to take over Moray Council on Wednesday.
This much has been stated by the outgoing administration today.
In a joint statement, the four Independents and one Conservative councillor said: "At our final administration group meeting today we tried to acknowledge the invitation from the leader of the conservative group, but the invitation proved to be an empty gesture.
"We therefore accept that the only outcome on the cards is for the SNP group to take over as a minority administration on Wednesday with the possible support from members of the Moray Alliance Group.
"Let me remind your readers that the demise of the independent/conservative coalition in the Moray Council administration, was brought about by the withdrawal of support by seven of the eight remaining conservative members.
"We very much regret that we have come to this situation but it is not of our making.
"The six remaining members of the administration have toiled for a year to try to give Moray stable leadership. We wish the new administration well in tackling what we know will be a daunting task.
"It is depressing for the people of Moray that their council is being used as a battleground by political parties.
"We are aware that our SNP councillors are being pressurised by their political masters to form a council administration and the conservative councillors are being advised to step aside and let this happen in the hope that the SNP administration fails.
"Once again the reputation of Moray is being diminished by party politics and the losers in all this are the people of Moray which is a huge source of regret to those of us who have tried to provide a stable administration. To others it should be a huge source of embarrassment.
We believe that party politics should have no place in local government in Moray."
Released on behalf of the admin group:-
Councillors - George Alexander (Forres), John Cowe (Heldon and Laich), Gordon Cowie (Buckie), Ron Shepherd (Keith and Cullen), James Allan (Heldon and Laich).
* Lorna Creswell (Forres) is on holiday and out of contact.