A LIBERAL Democrat councillor hailed as a sign of a “new hope” for the party has resigned after just 103 days in the job, saying it was more work than he could handle.

Christopher Price stood down as the sole LibDem on Moray Council after unexpectedly gaining his party’s first seat on the authority for 15 years without a vote being cast. 

Mr Price knew in March he would become a councillor for Buckie after May’s local election, as only three people stood for the three-person ward, so it was uncontested.

Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton described it as the first gain of the election for his party, predicting Mr Price would “do a great job on Moray Council”.

He cited Mr Price again in April as he kicked off a council campaign pledging to bring “new hope to every corner of Scotland”. 

He said: “The party has already gained two councillors in wards that it did not hold after the 2017 election with Christopher Price in Buckie being the first Liberal Democrat to be elected in Moray since 2003 and John Grafton elected in Caol and Mallaig, Highland.”

However Moray Council today confirmed that Mr Price, a travel clerk for the Ministry of Defence, had quit, triggering a by-election expected to cost around £20,000.

Council chief executive Roddy Burns said: “I thank him for his service to his constituents since May and wish him well for the future."

Mr Price told the Press & Journal he had found it “difficult” to balance his MoD job with his political role.

He said: “I’ve given it a lot of consideration and I wanted to do the best for the people of Buckie. I didn’t think it would be right not being able to give them more time, and it has been a really difficult decision.

“I kept on top of a lot of the work, but I wasn’t able to get away for council meetings and sit on committees.”

His exit adds to the chaotic atmosphere on the council, which has been in turmoil since May, with infighting and resignations crippling the minority Tory minority administration.

If the SNP win the coming byelection, they would draw level with the Tories in seats.

Neil Alexander, convener of the Moray Liberal Democrats, said: "I would like to thank the former Cllr Price for his time in Moray Council, and having a clear passion to represent and help the people of Buckie.

"Unfortunately, becoming a Councillor is a big transition personally and professionally and in some cases it’s too big a step to take.

"In that, Cllr Price has done the right thing to allow for the people of Buckie to elect a new representative who will work hard for them.”

Buckie SNP councillor Sonya Warren said: ““Whilst I am disappointed Chris is stepping down, as I got on well with him, it is now vital that we get a good councillor elected for the Buckie area that can work with others and campaign on the issues that matter for the town.

“With the triggering of this by-election in Buckie ward, the SNP will be out campaigning to win a second council seat in Buckie.

"We have demonstrated our ability to take on leadership in the Council in difficult circumstances and now, in opposition, we are working hard to hold the Conservative Administration to account.”