The new coun­cil

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

THE dust has set­tled fol­low­ing last week’s local au­thor­ity elec­tion. Find out who’s who in the new Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil. Full story

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.

Clock­wise from top left, Don­nie MacMil­lan, Roddy McCuish, Mary-Jean Devon, Elaine Robert­son, Julie McKen­zie and Ellen Mor­ton.

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