New challenge for council control

The pendulum of power may be about to swing yet again at Lochgilphead, with ‘Argyll and Bute for Change’ stating that it wishes to form an administration.

SNP councillor Roddy McCuish was confirmed as leader of the Argyll and Bute Council last week, but even with the support of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives – who appeared to have walked away from their political parties – his majority was paper-thin.

Today (Tuesday) a statement issued by Argyll and Bute for Change said it was composed of Independent, Argyll first and SNP members and had ’17 + 1′ of the authority’s 36 seats under the leadership of Oban Councillor Duncan Macintyre.

Duncan MacIntyre
Duncan MacIntyre

He has written to chief executive Sally Loudon and Douglas Hendry, executive director of customer services, stating: “We wish to notify you formally of the intention of the Argyll and Bute for Change grouping to set up within the council’s political management arrangements the administration group on the council.

“A key focus and direction with this proposal will be to promote inclusion among members, progress an early review of our political management structures, our senior member positions and external appointments, and to create a stable and efficient organisation that will promote policies for and with our communities for the best interests of all.

“Following the above and as an early action that is consistent with that approach, to promote a statement of policy and priorities for action with officers for the remaining life of the council that will assist with the corporate aims and objectives of the council as an organisation.”

It is not clear which Independents are part of the group, or how many of the SNP councillors who remain bitterly divided in the wake of plans to close Struan Lodge care home in Dunoon.

Cllr MacIntyre was a senior member of the council led by Independent Dick Walsh until last May’s elections.

The SNP’s Cllr McCuish then became leader, stepping back in January to be replaced by fellow SNP member James Robb.

As support for Cllr Robb ebbed – including the three Argyll First members, who are now aligned on the opposite side – Cllr McCuish was then confirmed as returning to the leadership in a two-sentence statement last week.

If the new grouping is successful in taking power – and currently the numbers could hardly be tighter – the council would see its fourth change of leader in little over a year, an unprecedented turmoil.

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