A SCOTTISH Conservative council convener has stepped down from the role a week before he was due to face a no confidence vote after alleged bad behaviour.

Marc Macrae of Moray Council was set to face a vote of confidence at a meeting next week, after allegations about his behaviour dating back to before he was appointed as convenor in March.

In June, councillors signed an open letter calling for the Fochabers and Lhanbrye councillor to refer himself to the Standards Commission or face a vote of no confidence.

Former Conservative colleague Frank Brown said the councillor was not a “fit and proper person” to be the civic head of the council when he was voted into the position in May following complaints about his behaviour.

The Conservative councillor said he had contacted Police Scotland about concerns.

"Stepping aside as convener will enable me to clear my name of unfounded allegations," he said.

"At the moment these allegations are creating a distraction to the important work which I, and my fellow councillors within the administration, are trying to do.

"Therefore, after much reflection, I have decided that it is in the best interest of the administration that I step aside from this very public role as I do not wish my personal situation to mar the good work of the team or the council."

He added: “The council has to move forward.

“After the meeting next week we need to focus on setting the budget for the next year, and I don’t want anything to take away from that.”

A statement announcing the resignation said: "With a former councillor making continued allegations and sending these to a wider distribution list in an attempt to further discredit him, with the backing of the Moray Conservative council group cllr Macrae has sought input from Police Scotland."

Mr Macrae became civic head of the council in May, and is part of a minority Conservative administration.

HeraldScotland: Moray Council HQ. Picture:Angus McNicholl

Ten councillors, eight SNP and two independents, have put their names to a motion of no confidence in the convener.

Kathleen Robertson, leader of the Conservative group, said: "Cllr Macrae and I take all allegations against our members seriously and I fully support his desire to clear his name.

"I respect the way which cllr Macrae has handled this situation and have been impressed with his selfless approach which led to his decision."

There are 26 seats on Moray Council with the Conservatives forming the largest group with 11 councillors.

The SNP have eight elected members, there are three Labour, two independents, one Green and one Liberal Democrat.

The behaviour concerns dated back three years ago and are believed to relate to an allged incident involving the nature of Mr Macrae's complaint about a council employee to his line manager.

In a statement released by the party in May, Mr Macrae said: “The incident referred to is not something I’m proud of, but I immediately apologised to the member of staff concerned for my behaviour.

“I have always been a hard-working councillor, something I believe is recognised by constituents and reflected in the vote I received at the recent council elections.”

Graham Leadbitter, the SNP group's co-leader, said Mr Macrae had "done the right thing" by resigning.

But he added: "His claims that allegations against him are ‘unfounded’ give rise to more questions than answers.

"The past behaviour issues that led to the no confidence motion are true and certainly not ‘unfounded’.

"If he wants to set the record straight he should set out in detail the events he accepts did happen and the consequences of those events.

"He should also set out what he considers to be unfounded.

"The statement issued today by the Conservatives deflects from the fundamental concern that cllr Macrae should never have been appointed to the position of convener..."

Mr Macrae said in June that he had been in contact with the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland and was told that the incident complained about was fully investigated and they had not interest in takings things further "It was dealt with internally in the council, and it's a matter that really should be put behind. It's a former colleague who is no longer an elected member who has a personal dislike for reasons that are known best to him.

"If I could just get on with the day job and bring all 25 Other counsellors with me, we have a very good chance to have a strong council for Moray.

"I'm very disappointed in some of the comments that have been made. These people are making the comments based on information that they don't know that they've had third party from a former colleague, as I say, if they were more informed they may have been wiser not to make those comments.

"But it's fair to say that I've had no complaints from any senior officer or the corporate management team of Moray Council. There was never any suggestion that I was not a fit and proper person to assume the role.

"I think the people in the council know me. The reputational damage is something that does concern me greatly. I am not trying to damage Moray Council."

Mr Macrae will stay on as councillor for the Fochabers and Lhanbryde ward and will also remain as chairman of the Economic Development and Infrastructure Services committee.