Months of uncertainty and confusion over the leadership of Argyll and Bute Council have ended today, with the return to power of veteran ‘independent’ Dick Walsh.
Cllr Walsh, from Dunoon was elected as leader in a meeting at Lochgilphead, with Ellen Morton, a Liberal Democrat from Helensburgh, depute leader.
This is the same leadership that the council had during attempts to force through the closure of 25 primary schools and up until the 2012 elections.
Now they head a partnership of Independent, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and non-aligned members, after the SNP’s failure to hold on to power.
Speaking at today’s meeting, Cllr Walsh paid tribute to outgoing leader, Cllr Roddy McCuish, adding: “Today’s decision forms a platform for progress and there is a real willingness for councillors to work together for the best possible outcome for the people of Argyll and Bute.”
This will be Cllr Walsh’s third stint as leader of the council and he will be the third person to head the authority since the election, following the SNP’s Cllrs McCuish and James Robb.
Power is finely balanced at the council, with various political groupings and varieties of independents frequently shifting sides during the summer.
In early July Cllr Walsh’s ‘Argyll and Bute for Change’ grouping issued a statement bitterly accusing the SNP of having a ‘blinkered approach’ leading to ‘political meltdown’.
The same statement referred to deals being done with ‘king maker’’, the Liberal Democrats and the Tories, accusing those groups of “failing in their attempts to be subtle as they could not hide the puppet strings as they blatantly controlled the leader.”