Future uncertain for SNP group leader after budget

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BUTE councillor Robert Macintyre’s future as leader of the SNP group on Argyll and Bute Council appears to be shrouded in uncertainty following the authority’s annual budget meeting.

Cllr Macintyre and his Bute colleague Isobel Strong refused to back leader Dick Walsh’s budget proposals for the next three years because of concern over job cuts in the island’s Streetscene workforce, which deals with roads and environmental services.

But the four other SNP councillors at Thursday’s meeting - Ann Horn, John Semple, Roddy McCuish and Louise Glen-Lee – all voted in favour of Cllr Walsh’s budget motion.

Speaking exclusively to The Buteman, Cllr Macintyre – who had praised Cllr Walsh’s spending plans during Thursday’s council meeting, but said he could not support them without assurances over the local Streetscene jobs – appeared to hint that he expected his position as group leader might not go unchallenged.

“I’m still the SNP group leader at this moment in time,” he said, “but we are due to meet on Wednesday and we have agreed to discuss the situation then.

“My colleagues understood how strongly Cllr Strong and I felt about protecting jobs on Bute. Cllr Walsh was splashing money about worse than [Rangers FC owner] Craig Whyte, and all Bute’s got is £100,000 plus its share of roads spending – although for the last two years, Bute’s roads have been under-funded, and it’s only through consistent representation that recent work on the Gallowgate and Guildford Square have been done.

“If you say to people that you will stand up for them and fight what you think is totally wrong, you can’t go back on your word.

“The budget was a case of ‘sweeties for election time’, but it was a good budget, with that one exception.”

Cllr Macintyre – who has been a member of Argyll and Bute Council since its formation in 1995, and has led the SNP group since 2003 – also confirmed that he would stand as an SNP candidate in the forthcoming local authority elections, but that if elected, the next term would be his last.

Cllr Strong and independent Len Scoullar, who have been councillors since 1999, have also confirmed to The Buteman that they intend to stand in the May 3 poll.