SNP on verge of return to power in Argyll and Bute

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THE Scottish National Party is on the verge of returning to power in Argyll and Bute as the senior coalition partner in a new administration.

The 12 SNP councillors who were voted in at last week’s local authority election have been joined by seven independents and one Conservative in a ‘coalition for progress’ established by the new SNP group leader, Oban councillor Roddy McCuish.

Cllr McCuish and his deputy, South Kintyre councillor John Semple, were holding talks with the authority’s chief executive, Sally Loudon, on Tuesday morning as this article was published.

Further meetings are to be held during the course of Tuesday, and we understand that at least one of the party’s two Bute councillors, Robert Macintyre and Isobel Strong, will have a senior position when the new administration is officially formed.

Talks on the formation of a ‘coalition for progress’ began over the weekend, when the three Argyll First councillors – independents John McAlpine and Douglas Philand, and Conservative Donald Kelly – and Lomond North independent George Freeman were the first to align themselves with the SNP group.

They were soon joined by newly-elected independents Iain MacDonald and Robert G. MacIntyre, as well as Oban independent Elaine Robertson, a former member of the Alliance of Independent Councillors.

The new coalition’s numbers grew to 20 when independent Alistair MacDougall, elected to the Oban South and the Isles ward last week five years after losing his seat as councillor for Mull, joined the ranks early this week.