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Opposition secure vital wins as face of Argyll and Bute Council changes

Decision made by cutting a deck of cards

By By ChristopherDodds
Argyll and Bute
Opposition secure vital wins as face of Argyll and Bute Council changes

COUNCILLOR JIM LYNCH ousted Robin Currie as Argyll and Bute Council Leader in sensational circumstances on Thursday morning – after a deck of cards decided the new direction that a perfectly split council would head.

Mr Lynch (SNP) was sworn in as the new council leader in a special council meeting at Kilmory, ending Mr Currie’s (LibDem) two-year long spell in post.

The special meeting saw changes of both the leader of the council and the provost.

Two motions brought forward from the former opposition group moved to remove Councillor Currie and Provost Maurice Corry (Con) from their respective posts to be replaced by Councillor Jim Lynch (SNP, Oban South and the Isles) and Councillor Douglas Philand (Ind, Mid Argyll)

Both motions, seconded by Dunoon councillor Audrey Forrest (SNP) to elect new faces to the council’s top table were met with stern amendments, one of which was supported by Cowal councillor Yvonne McNeilly (Con).

The motion to elect a new Provost for Argyll and Bute Council was brought forward by new council leader, Jim Lynch who told the chamber: “We can’t continue without a clear strategy.

“We’ve lost contact with communities, some of which feel disconnected and ignored. Today gives us the opportunity to start a programme for change.”

Speaking before the chamber, Councillor Forrest added: “It’s clear to see that there is a perception in communities that the council isn’t doing well. We all know that we need to make difficult decisions but it’s up to the council to explain why.”

The motion to see Councillor Lynch become council leader was opposed by Councillors Gary Mulvaney and Yvonne McNeilly.

Cllr Mulvaney’s speech to the chamber was met with umpteen boos as his feelings were perhaps unshared, in an astonishing tirade, he said: Argyll and Bute Council only has an extra £2.3million in funding because of Robin Currie. The opposition wouldn’t have done that.

“If you cast your minds back, the previous SNP administration in Argyll and Bute saw two changes of leader. The strings of this council were being pulled in Edinburgh.”

Cllr McNeilly added: “Robin came into post in real uncharted territory. However, he took things at his own pace and he got things done. Hopefully history tells of his successes in charge.”

The tension within the council chamber in Kilmory was palpable as both votes were cast. But the division was also apparent as both returned a perfect 18 -18 split.

Cowal and Bute councillors were split in their decision making with only three of the ten councillors (Gordon Blair,  Audrey Forrest and Reeni Kennedy-Boyle) voting for both motions to be passed.

Amanda and Daniel Hampsey, Liz McCabe, Mrs McNeilly, Ross Moreland, William Sinclair and Peter Wallace all voted to amend, in the hope of keeping both Mr Currie and Mr Corry in post.

This saw both votes go to a lot, in this case decided by the splitting of a deck of cards, with the highest card deciding who would win the vote and take control of the council.

Both opposition candidates were successful in their lots, though, Mr Lynch drew a King of Spades to beat Mr Currie’s six of Hearts whereas Mr Philand’s eight of Spades beat Mr Corry’s two of Diamonds.

Speaking to the chamber shortly after his victory, Councillor Lynch said: “I’ve got big shoes to fill with Robin standing before me.

“I hope that I can do half the job that you have.”

A further meeting will be held at Kilmory on Thursday, April 25 to determine a full reshuffle of council roles as the new administration forges its path ahead.

A council statement issued after the meeting read: “Full Council will meet on April 25 to agree the ruling Administration and related councillor roles, on committees of the council and external organisations.

“Committee meetings scheduled between now and then will be on hold until chairs of these meetings are confirmed.

“The special meeting of full council on April 15, to consider a council tax freeze, is scheduled to go ahead with the Provost in place to take the meeting.”

The council spokesperson added: “Making decisions by cutting cards is standard practice in these circumstances.”


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