An SNP councillor in Alex Salmond's constituency has defected to the Liberal Democrats after losing confidence with his group.

Fergus Hood, re-elected in Aberdeenshire in May last year, said his decision was based on local politics and he will still be voting Yes in the independence referendum next year.

He also claimed there is a pro-independence element within his new party.

"I admire the work of the Scottish Government and the SNP ministers but locally it's been an issue for a while with internal politics," he said.

"The Liberals are an approachable group and have talented folk. I've been working closely with them for a while on local issues.

"I am still in favour of independence and support the Yes Scotland campaign but won't actively campaign with it."

His new party is comfortable with his view on independence, he said.

"The SNP is not going to win this only relying on SNP voters," he added.

"They're going to need Yes voters in other parties. There is a group in the Lib Dems that support independence, just like there is in Labour."

He emailed the SNP council group leader on Friday and spoke on the phone with Mr Salmond, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, but has not spoken to his former council colleagues since.

The SNP emerged as the largest party in Aberdeenshire last May but failed to form an administration.

Mr Hood, one of three councillors on the East Garioch ward, said: "It's been an issue since the elections last May.

"There was a deal proposed but unfortunately due to internal politics within the group the deal wasn't able to be done.

"That was a huge disappointment to me and to others.I spoke to Alex Salmond on Friday and told him I admired the way he has done things at a national level but I said at a local level the party has work to do.

"We discussed it for a period of time and he gave me a number of options and left the decision to me, which was the sensible thing to do."

He said the Lib Dems had proved effective at local campaigns, including efforts to identify funds for the village hall at Newmachar in his ward.

In a statement announcing the defection, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said: "As part of the administration we are working hard to create jobs and boost key local services. I know that councillor Hood will make a big contribution to our work in the months and years to come."

Councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes, Lib Dem group leader in Aberdeenshire, said: "'I am delighted to welcome councillor Hood to the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Having worked closely with Fergus on the council I know that he is a strong local champion who stands up for people in his ward."