Game on as negotiations begin to form new council

Donnie MacMillan

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SCOTLAND’S oldest councillor was last week re-elected to Argyll and Bute Council at the grand age of 89.
Donnie MacMillan will be 94 at the end of this council term but says there is no chance of him slowing down.
Mr MacMillan is a Royal Air Force veteran involved in the aftermath clear-up of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb in Japan.
Back home in Argyll, he worked on transport lorries during the war, and afterwards in a career as a breadman, a shopkeeper and ‘a few other jobs’.
‘Oor Donnie’, as he is affectionately known, has served the council since 1980 – a grand total of 37 years.
He was re-elected to his Mid-Argyll ward last Thursday.
Constituents say he is a ‘hard-working councillor’, and maintains a daily routine of walking along Lochgilphead’s main street, and visiting staff in council offices.
He puts his success down to never sending an email, instead choosing to make personal calls to the heads of council service – often waiting outside offices for bosses to return from meetings.
Mr MacMillan was one of 21 councillors re-elected to the local authority. He is part of the 10-strong Independent group.
In Oban, Lorn and the Isles area councillors Roddy McCuish, Mary-Jean Devon, Elaine Robertson and Kieron Green, all independents, were re-elected. Two SNP councillors were elected: Julie McKenzie kept her seat and Jim Lynch took a seat in Oban South and Isles. Two conservatives, Jamie McGrigor and Andrew Vennard, were also elected – one in each ward.
Former Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor said he was delighted to win his ‘first ever election’ – previously having earned his seat through the regional list.
The council is, at the time of going to press, locked in a battle for leadership of the local authority.
The biggest group in the council is the SNP with 11 councillors but this falls short of the 19 required to lead the council.
The SNP has said it will not work with Conservative members.
Previous disagreements may stop an alliance being made by all 10 Independent councillors and the current SNP group, although Dougie Philand and George Freeman have previously agreed to work with any group.
A motion of no confidence against former deputy leader Ellen Morton (Lib Dem) in the dying days of the previous administration makes it unlikely that she will want to align herself with the SNP, though it is possible.
In Argyll and Bute, the Liberal Democrats, of which there are six, have historically worked well with the Conservative and Unionist group, of which there are nine members – one of whom is ambitious twenty-something Alistair Redman from Islay.
Common practice is for the biggest group to try to form an administration.
The SNP group issued a press release earlier this week inviting ‘leader of the Independents’ Roddy McCuish to form an administration with the SNP.
However the former council leader refuted he was the leader.
Mr McCuish said: ‘I am not the leader of the Independents on the council.
‘The SNP has to date not asked me if I was the leader of that group and has caused some embarrassment by sending out this press release.
‘I want to make it very clear that I have not been approached to be the leader of the Independent group.’
The future leader will emerge over the next few days, but it will not be confirmed until the first council meeting.
Councillors are asking for a first meeting as soon as possible, maybe as early as next Thursday.
At that point further leadership and provost contenders may come forward.
It is unlikely that Ellen Morton will want to be the leader of the council, as she has turned down the position in the past.
While another contender, Alan Reid, Lib Dem, will find it difficult to juggle being council leader having been confirmed as the party’s candidate for the general election.