Parties thrash out deals to decide who rules new council

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Argyll and Bute Council’s 12 new SNP councillors are disappointed by whispers of a ‘back-room deal struck between the Tories and Liberal Democrats’ to form a ruling coalition at Kilmory Castle.

After the local election on May 5, Argyll and Bute had a new council comprising 10 Conservative councillors, one Labour, five Liberal Democrats, one Green, 12 SNP, and seven independents.

No one party won a majority in the chamber of 36 councillors, and discussions have been taking place to form a governing administration.

The new council’s first full meeting today (Thursday May 19) will decide who becomes provost for this new term, as well as depute provost, and leader and depute leader.

Earlier this week, the SNP Group leader Councillor Jim Lynch said: ‘The recent election results give us a real opportunity for the much needed change in the leadership of the council which the voters in Argyll and Bute have clearly demonstrated that they wish to see.

‘We are therefore disappointed by recent comments in the press which rumour a potential back-room deal struck between the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

‘The SNP Group continues to progress positive discussions and be open to forming an administration with likeminded colleagues who share our progressive vision for Argyll and Bute.

‘We would be incredibly dismayed if Liberal Democrat councillors do not honour their campaign pledge, when only a few weeks ago they made a commitment to the people of Argyll and Bute not to form an administration with the Tories.’

Meanwhile, the unseated provost of Argyll and Bute described his 15 years’ service to the area as ‘an absolute honour’. David Kinniburgh gave a speech at the rostrum at the council election count, despite losing his Conservative seat for Helensburgh and Lomond South.

Mr Kinniburgh was elected as provost in November 2020, replacing the late Len Scoullar, who passed away earlier that month.

He said: ‘Obviously I am disappointed, but it has been an absolute honour to have served over the last 15 years.

‘I know that the councillors who have been elected will make a great team on this council, and I am just sorry I cannot be part of it.’

Mr Kinniburgh’s deputy as provost, Roddy McCuish, decided not to seek re-election, so that position will also require to be filled.

Kintyre and the Islands Liberal Democrat councillor Robin Currie, the council’s leader going into the election, did regain his seat, as did his deputy, Helensburgh Central Conservative councillor Gary Mulvaney.

A deal between SNP and independent councillors has been struck to rule Highland Council before their first meeting on May 26.