THE SNP and a group of seven “progressive” Independents are tonight in control of Argyll and Bute Council.
Newly elected Helensburgh councillor Robert Macintyre has pledged his support to a Nationalist-led coalition – giving them an unassailable 19-seat majority.
Delighted SNP group leader Roddy McCuish declared: “The future now looks very bright for the people of Argyll and Bute.
“We have put together and exceptional team who will work for the betterment of the area and for everyone in it.”
The 12-strong SNP group had already secured the support of six other councillors after another round of intensive talks today.
It gave them an 18-member coalition within the 36-seat local authority – needing just one more for an overall majority before Councillor Macintyre pledged his support for them.
It had been anticipated that the delayed election in the Dunoon Ward on Thursday was going to prove crucial in who was to gain control of the council.
But councillor Macintyre’s decision has now made that result irrelevant in terms of the balance of power – although the Nationlists are still campaigning hard for their candidate Michael Breslin to secure a berth among them.
Councillor McCuish said: “We have hard work ahead of us – and it starts now. But with the mandate we have from the people of Argyll and Bute we will be able to move forward, making our area the best in the country.”
He added that his group and the Independents who have joined them had formed “a strong coalition” with a “positive can-do attitude”.
Those who have pledged their support to the SNP group are Argyll First councillors Donald Kelly, Dougie Philand and John MacAlpine and other Independent members Iain Angus MacDonald, Elaine Robertson, George Freeman and Councillor Macintyre.
Councillor McCuish said: “The people of Argyll and Bute have given us a clear mandate for change in the way the work of this council is conducted.
“There are a clearly a number of partners who share our aims and have already shown they have the backbone to implement a positive agenda for the people in the towns, villages, rural areas and islands.
“At a meeting today held in Tarbert, Loch Fyne, we made progress through open, honest and frank discussion. A clear way forward has been discussed and agreed.
“We will now entering into discussion with others to further extend the progressive majority.”
Councillor Donald Kelly, of the Argyll First group of councillors, said: “We are delighted to have made a coalition with the SNP group and with independent councillors.
“Our motto has always been time for change which we can deliver with these partners.
“In forming a coalition with this group we will have a realistic opportunity to give transparency and accountability to the people of Argyll and Bute.”
Elected councillors for all declared wards so far:-
Ward 1 South Kintyre -
Donald Kelly (Conservative/Argyll First) 1,133 votes
John Semple (SNP) 415
Rory Colville (Lib/Dem) 351
Ward 2 Kintyre and the Islands -
Anne Horne (SNP) 610 votes
John McAlpine (Independent/Argyll First) 584
Robin Currie (Lib/Dem) 540
Ward 3 Mid Argyll -
Douglas Philand (Independent/Argyll First) 1,111 votes
Sandy Taylor (SNP) 712
Donnie MacMillan (Independent) 409
Ward 4 Oban South and the Isles -
Mary-Jean Devon (SNP) 813 votes
Roddy McCuish (SNP) 767
Fred Hall (SNP) 349
Alistair MacDougall (Independent) 281
Ward 5 Oban North and Lorn -
Gwyneth Neal (Lib/Dem) 807 votes
Louise Glen-Lee (SNP) 707
Duncan Macintyre (Independent) 421
Iain MacDonald (Independent) 361
Ward 6 Cowal -
Gordon Blair (SNP) 570 votes
Alex McNaughton (Independent) 543
Bruce Marshall (‘Independent’/Conservative) 375
Ward 8 Isle of Bute -
Len Scoular (Independent) 707 votes
Robert Macintyre (SNP) 609
Isobel Strong (SNP) 359
Ward 9 Lomond North -
George Freeman (Independent) 847 votes
Maurice Corry (Conservative) 544
Robert Macintyre (Independent) 358
Ward 10 Helensburgh Central -
Vivien Dance (Independent) 749 votes
James Robb (SNP) 687
Gary Mulvaney (Conservative) 673
Aileen Morton (Lib/Dem) 665
Ward 11 Helensburgh and Lomond South -
Ellen Morton (Lib/Dem) 895 votes
Richard Trail (SNP) 584
David Kinniburgh (Conservative) 558