VOTERS on the Isle of Bute have chosen Robert Macintyre, Isobel Strong and Len Scoullar to represent them on Argyll and Bute Council for the next five years.
Remarkably it’s the fourth time the island’s electorate has chosen the trio as their preferred candidates - although it’s still unclear how the three will figure in the eventual balance of power in the Kilmory council chamber.
Independent Councillor Scoullar received 707 first preference choices under the Single Transferable Vote system, while the SNP duo of Cllrs Macintyre and Strong received 609 and 359 first preference votes respectively.
Labour’s Adam Bellshaw came mighty close to unseating Cllr Strong in his first ever election, receiving 351 first choice votes, while Conservative candidate Peter Wallace received 216, an improvement on his first attempt in 2007, and Hugh Cole for the Scottish Christian Party - who did not attend the count in Lochgilphead - received 45.
Under the STV system, Cllrs Scoullar and Macintyre were both elected at the first stage of calculation - both having reached the quota for election of 572 votes - while Cllr Strong was elected only after the sixth and final round.
What does it all mean?
Elections were held in ten of the 11 multi-member wards in Argyll and Bute on Thursday. The election in the final ward, Dunoon, has been postponed until Thursday, May 10 following the death of one of the candidates - and the result in that last ward seems likely to play a crucial role in determining which parties will be in power for the next five years.
With all ten ward results having been declared on Friday, 33 councillors have been elected - 13 independents, 12 SNP, four Liberal Democrats and four Conservatives.
The previous council had been run since November 2010 by a coalition of the Alliance of Independent Councillors (AIC), the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.
However, not all of the independents elected on Friday are, or were, members of the AIC: two, John McAlpine and Douglas Philand, were members of the opposition Argyll First grouping, while one, George Freeman, sat as one half of the opposition Argyll and Bute Independent Councillors group.
All eyes will therefore be on the Dunoon ward battle next week, with the result to be announced at the Queen’s Hall in the town some three hours or so after the polls close.
Eight new names will take their seats for the first time at the new council’s inaugural meeting.
They are Sandy Taylor, Fred Hall, Gordon Blair and Richard Trail for the SNP, Maurice Corry for the Conservatives, Aileen Morton for the Liberal Democrats and independents Iain MacDonald and Robert G. MacIntyre.
In addition, independent Alistair MacDougall, who represented the Mull ward until 2007 and appeared at the AIC’s campaign launch last month, returns as one of four councillors for Oban South and the Isles.
Six incumbent councillors failed to secure enough votes to be re-elected on Friday: the highest-profile casualty was the Liberal Democrats’ Alison Hay, a past leader of the authority, who lost her place in the council chamber after 20 years.
Others who failed in their re-election bid were Gordon Chalmers, formerly a councillor for Oban South and the Isles and the other half of the opposition Argyll and Bute Independent Councillors group; Neil Mackay, elected as a Liberal Democrat for Oban North and Lorn in 2007 but latterly a member of the AIC; the SNP’s Ron Simon in Cowal (though fellow SNP candidate Gordon Blair was elected for the first time in the same ward); AIC independent Danny Kelly, chair of the planning, protective services and licensing committee, who lost his seat in Lomond North; and the Liberal Democrats’ Andrew Nisbet, latterly the authority’s social services spokesperson, who had been a councillor for the Helensburgh and Lomond South ward since a 2007 by-election.
Those elected on Friday, ward by ward, were as follows.
Ward 1 (South Kintyre) - Donald Kelly (Conservative), John Semple (SNP), Rory Colville (Liberal Democrat).
Ward 2 (Kintyre and the Islands) - Anne Horn (SNP), John McAlpine (Independent), Robin Currie (Liberal Democrat).
Ward 3 (Mid Argyll) - Douglas Philand (Independent), Sandy Taylor (SNP), Donnie MacMillan (Independent).
Ward 4 (Oban South and the Isles) - Mary-Jean Devon (SNP), Roddy McCuish (SNP), Fred Hall (SNP), Alistair McDougall (Independent).
Ward 5 (Oban North and Lorn) - Elaine Robertson (Independent), Louise Glen-Lee (SNP), Duncan MacIntyre (Independent), Iain MacDonald (Independent).
Ward 6 (Cowal) - Gordon Blair (SNP), Alex McNaughton (Independent), Bruce Marshall (Independent).
Ward 7 (Dunoon) - election on May 10.
Ward 8 (Isle of Bute) - Len Scoullar (Independent), Robert Macintyre (SNP), Isobel Strong (SNP).
Ward 9 (Lomond North) - George Freeman (Independent), Maurice Corry (Conservative), Robert MacIntyre (Independent).
Ward 10 (Helensburgh Central) - Vivien Dance (Independent), James Robb (SNP), Gary Mulvaney (Conservative), Aileen Morton (Liberal Democrat).
Ward 11 (Helensburgh and Lomond South) - Ellen Morton (Liberal Democrat), Richard Trail (SNP), David Kinniburgh (Conservative).