Members of Argyll and Bute Council have voted in favour of a programme of improvements which they hope will draw a final line under months of in-fighting and paralysis in the Lochgilphead council chamber.
Councillors voted 31-3 in favour of an improvement plan to be submitted to Audit Scotland following a highly critical report last year which accused the council of lacking strategic political leadership.
The detailed action plan contains 33 distinct actions addressing four key areas – standards, governance structure and processes, training and development for elected members, and policy development support.
Councillors also gave their backing to a new committee structure for the authority which will see the full council meet every two months, rather than every month as at present, with the resulting gap being filled by three new committees covering environment, development and infrastructure; policy and resources; and community services.
Council leader Dick Walsh said: “We have moved on with a new and inclusive committee structure which will provide a strong, stable administration in place, we have established a robust political management structure and a comprehensive action plan which will support further improvements.
“Councillors, working together, have used the Accounts Commission’s findings as a catalyst for change.
“The actions we are taking will help us drive forward change and secure a prosperous future for Argyll and Bute.”
The only dissenting voice on both the improvement plan and the new political structure was Helensburgh councillor and former council leader James Robb, who called the new committees “divisive and expensive” and “a poor substitute for the previous inclusive and accountable democracy”.
On the Audit Scotland action plan vote, Cllr Robb was supported by stand-alone independents Fred Hall and Michael Breslin; Cllr Robb also tabled an amendment on the council’s new political management arrangements, but failed to find a seconder and thus asked for his dissent to be recorded.