‘Consensus coalition’ hit by resignations – updated at 2.40pm

The new coalition running Argyll and Bute Council has already been hit by three resignations.

It was announced yesterday that Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors had crossed the chamber to join SNP council leader James Robb’s administration after last month’s resignations of two SNP members left him in a weakened position.

And today Cllr Robb said that the Argyll First group – Douglas Philand from Lochgilphead, Donald Kelly of Campbeltown and John Mcalpine from Tarbert had quit.

“I can confirm that Argyll First have resigned from the coalition,” he said.

“I have had no reason given for that decision. I am disappointed they have taken that decision and would thank them for their past contribution and hope that the consensual relationship we have with our former colleagues will endure in their new roles.”

He confirmed that the new ‘Consensus Coalition’ needed approval from the SNP’s national executive, adding: “Given that the we already had a Conservative presence in the Administration and that there are existing SNP political agreements with Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour in other councils, this should be a formality.”

Last night it was revealed here that Argyll and Bute Independent Councillors group members George Freeman and Robert G MacIntyre would remain in the administration.

Councillor Robb said today his coalition now had  22 members, while the opposition had 14.

UPDATE: After Cllr Robb’s statement had been released, Donald Kelly replied on behalf of Argyll First accusing him of ‘underhand’ behaviour.

He said: “Since the 2012 elections, Argyll First have worked tirelessly in an effort to make the current administration a success.

“On many occasions, we have went above and beyond the call of duty despite being undermined on a number of occasions by our SNP administration colleagues.

“Last week when realising that the administration was going into free-fall, Argyll First along with others decided to present the idea of a new innovative model in council working to the council leader in an attempt to put the current administration back on track.

“This was dismissed out of hand by James Robb. We were unaware at that time he had already agreed a deal with the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives to join the coalition.

“The underhand manner in which the current Council Leader conducts business made the Argyll First position within the current administration untenable.”

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