TALKS are under way on potential coalition deals on Argyll and Bute Council following Thursday's election.

The SNP, Liberal Democrats and particularly the Conservatives all made big gains at the expense of independents when the results were announced on Friday.

With no group having the 19 councillors required for a majority, some form of coalition will have to be formed to run the council for the next five years.

And the SNP – the largest party group – has already announced that it has held early conversations with at least some of the remaining independents with a view to forming a "progressive coalition".

But it's not yet clear which groups will join forces to form a coalition to lead the authority for the next five years.

Eleven SNP councillors were elected when the results were announced on Friday, up from eight, while the Liberal Democrats went from four councillors to six.

But the biggest gains were made by the Conservatives, who saw the size of their contingent go up from three councillors to nine.

Talks on forming a coalition are expected to take place over this weekend and into the beginning of next week – and the outcome of those talks will determine who will take over as leader of the council after independent Dick Walsh opted not to stand for re-election.

The SNP's group leader, Sandy Taylor, said: "We have already engaged in early conversations with non-party aligned successful candidates and will be looking to develop those relations in order to pull together a new, progressive coalition group on the council."

So how did the various groups fare when the results were announced?


The Conservatives made the biggest gains when the results were announced on Friday.

Their group includes new councillors Alastair Redman (Kintyre and the Islands), former MSP Jamie McGrigor (Oban South and the Isles), Andrew Vennard (Oban North and Lorn), Yvonne McNeilly (Cowal), Bobby Good (Dunoon) and Barbara Morgan (Lomond North).

They were elected alongside sitting Tory councillors Gary Mulvaney and David Kinniburgh from the Helensburgh and Lomond area - who received the two biggest 'first preference' votes in the whole of Argyll and Bute - while Donnie Kelly was also elected on a Conservative ticket in South Kintyre, though he took his seat without a contest after no new candidates challenged the three sitting councillors.


The SNP group features five new members – Jim Lynch (Oban South and the Isles), Audrey Forrest (Dunoon), Jim Findlay (Isle of Bute), Iain S. Paterson (Lomond North) and Lorna Douglas (Helensburgh Central).

They will join John Armour (South Kintyre), Ann Horn (Kintyre and the Islands), Sandy Taylor (Mid Argyll), Julie McKenzie (Oban North and Lorn), Gordon Blair (Cowal) and Richard Trail (Helensburgh and Lomond South), all of whom won another five-year term.

The only SNP councillor who stood for re-election but failed to retain his seat was Robert E. Macintyre (Isle of Bute).

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, saw their Helensburgh representation increased when Graham Hardie (Helensburgh Central) joined Ellen Morton and her daughter Aileen.

Also elected as a Liberal Democrat was former Argyll and Bute Westminster MP Alan Reid, who will represent the Cowal ward.

They will join sitting Lib Dems Rory Colville (South Kintyre) and Robin Currie (Kintyre and the Islands).


The ranks of the independents – for many years the dominating force in local politics in Argyll and Bute – were depleted significantly, though it's not yet clear which of those independent councillors might be minded to sign up to any coalition deal should they be given the opportunity.

New independents elected on Friday were Jim Anderson (Dunoon), a former Argyll and Bute Council official, and Jean Moffat, representing the Isle of Bute.

Seven independent councillors retained their seats – Dougie Philand and Donnie McMillan in Mid Argyll, Mary Jean Devon and Roddy McCuish in Oban South and the Isles, Elaine Robertson (Oban North and Lorn), Len Scoullar (Isle of Bute) and George Freeman (Lomond North).

Five independents lost their places on the council – the first four John McAlpine (Kintyre and the Islands), Jimmy McQueen (Dunoon), Alex McNaughton (Cowal) and Robert G. MacIntyre (Lomond North).

The fifth, in Helensburgh, was James Robb, who also failed to retain his Helensburgh Central seat, having stood as an independent after his resignation in March from the SNP group.

What's the picture in Helensburgh and Lomond?

The Helensburgh and Lomond contingent on the council will comprise three Conservatives, three SNP members, three Liberal Democrats and one independent.

They are:

Lomond North: George Freeman (Independent), Barbara Morgan (Conservative), Iain S. Paterson (SNP).

Helensburgh Central: Lorna Douglas (SNP), Graham Hardie (Liberal Democrat), Aileen Morton (Helensburgh Central), Gary Mulvaney (Conservative).

Helensburgh and Lomond South: David Kinniburgh (Conservative), Ellen Morton (Liberal Democrat), Richard Trail (SNP).