THE NEW president of Cosla has insisted she will put “team local government” ahead of party loyalty after the SNP seized control of the umbrella organisation for councils.

Shona Morrison, an SNP councillor in Moray, became her party’s first Cosla president after independent members of the organisation backed her to see off a challenge from Labour’s Heather Brannan-McVey.

Opponents have warned that the move is "another hammer blow to Scotland’s savagely underfunded councils" – with Cosla, under the previously leadership, warning over real-terms cuts to core budgets.

The SNP also secured the high-profile resources spokesperson job – putting Dumfries and Galloway councillor Katie Hagmann in line to put the case for more local government funding to party colleague and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

Opposition parties had previously warned about the SNP taking on the top jobs, given Cosla has been putting Ms Forbes under pressure over the Scottish Government’s funding deal for local government.

READ MORE: SNP accused of 'power grab' over election for Cosla presidency

“Until now, Cosla has been rightly vocal in calling out the sustained and systematic budget cuts local authorities have been handed year after year by the SNP Government."

He added: “It’s hard to see that continuing with an SNP councillor as president. I fear Shona Morrison will prove to be just the sort of lackey Nicola Sturgeon wants in charge – someone who will meekly accept unfair funding deals and not dare to criticise her government for imposing them."

Union leaders have warned that the SNP need to put their party loyalty aside and continue to fight for Cosla amid a pay row with ministers.

It is believed Cosla’s new leadership were set to offer unions a 5% pay deal, subject to the Scottish Government being able to find the funding.

Johanna Baxter, Unison head of local government said: “I think we need assurances from the new Cosla spokesperson that she will put aside her party allegiances, stand up for the role of local government and the staff who deliver our vital local services.

“Negotiators should leave their party colours at the door and focus on doing their best for council staff.”

She added: “Unison are having to ballot our members right now, urging them to vote for strike action to get a fair pay deal.

“But we need an employer that is prepared to recognise, respect and reward these key workers and a Cosla spokesperson who can bring the government to the table, not someone who is just going to do their bidding.”

READ MORE: SNP trying to 'protect themselves' by securing Cosla resources job

But Ms Morrison said her focus was on putting party loyalty to one side and prioritising standing up for local councils.

She said: "I look forward to continuing the progress which has already been made on a cross party basis over the last five-year term.

“I am clear about the pressures faced by local government and the challenges and opportunities ahead."

Ms Morrison added: "This is an important job and a challenge I will relish and give my all to. I am a politician and a member of a political party, however my focus in this role will be on the ‘team local government’.

“Working with the vice president and the spokespeople at Cosla, I’m confident we will deliver on our key priorities as we work together to be the voice for local councils and champion the essential services they continue to provide under increasingly challenging circumstances."

Orkney independent councillor Steven Heddle was appointed vice-president at the same meeting.

A Labour source said the SNP would “absolutely” want to seize control of Cosla “so they can be puppets for their own masters”.

They added: “They don’t seem to be outspoken as much as we would like them to be. They should be standing up for local government, not SNP ministers.”

Scottish Conservative local government spokesperson, Miles Briggs, said: “This news is another hammer blow to Scotland’s savagely underfunded councils.