Political future still unclear at Argyll and Bute Council

Bute SNP councillor Robert Macintyre has issued a joint statement with Cowal's Gordon Blair voicing his concern at the lack of consensus among the party's Argyll and Bute councillors.
Bute SNP councillor Robert Macintyre has issued a joint statement with Cowal's Gordon Blair voicing his concern at the lack of consensus among the party's Argyll and Bute councillors.

The future political shape of Argyll and Bute Council remains uncertain ahead of a meeting of all 36 members of the authority later this week.

The SNP members of the council had been expected to conclude a coalition deal with the Alliance of Independent Councillors (AIC) and other independents in advance of a full council meeting on Thursday (May 23).

But a statement released by Bute SNP councillor Robert Macintyre and his Cowal colleague, Cllr Gordon Blair, suggests that such an agreement is no longer likely to happen - and that Cllrs Macintyre and Blair are far from happy with this state of affairs.

The full statement from the two councillors, issued on Wednesday morning, reads as follows.

“As SNP councillors we decided after due consideration to enter, in principle, into a new dialogue with previous administration colleagues and others following the suspension of the SNP group by the SNP NEC.

“The way forward as part of an administration which had a broader base of membership and indeed with likeminded vision was the best option, in our view, for the people we represent in our local communities and throughout Argyll and Bute and we hope that other SNP members will take this opportunity to participate fully in the formation a new administration at this early stage.

“As dedicated SNP councillors first and foremost who are supportive in providing the services that our communities need and value it was clear that our vision for the future was not universally supported in budget proposals in reference particularly to Struan Lodge in Dunoon and Atlantis Leisure in Oban.

“In hard economic times difficult decisions have to be made. We realise that fully, but hard decision are better made with the full understanding and the informed consent of the people we represent. That perhaps has not as fully been the case as it should have been.

“We have listened to our communities, our branch members, our constituency association and our MSPs and it is clear the priorities we all want this new administration to take forward.

“To do this we need to be part of it. There is no point being outside the decision making process. We hope the full SNP group can join in grasping this opportunity for the benefit of all our people.

“To go ahead without as yet full consensus in our group has given us a very difficult decision to make but we have and will continue to support SNP policy and the principles we have worked for and believed in throughout our adult lives.

“The checks and balances in an administration are important and we feel that the opportunity to move forward, working together is essential for the people we serve.”

An announcement on the formation of a new coalition and the appointment of a new leader had been expected on Tuesday, but all that was forthcoming was a statement from independent councillor Bruce Marshall (AIC, Cowal) announcing that “a constructive meeting was held amongst a group of councillors” - without specifying which ones - and that “a positive proposal will come to the council meeting on Thursday”.

Cllr Marshall’s brief statement concluded: “The ambition is to improve the stability of A&BC for the benefit of all

residents.