A REBEL bid to take over Argyll and Bute Council has resulted in a new rainbow coalition for the area.

SNP, Independent, Green and Labour councillors were joined by a former Conservative, Tommy Macpherson, in backing a change of leadership, and Provost, at a special council meeting on April 4.

Both votes were tied 18-18 between the previous ruling administration and the opposition.

That meant both the Provost and council leader roles had to be decided on a cut of the cards - and in both cases, the challengers won. 

As a result, the ruling TALIG administration (The Argyll, Lomond and Islands Group) out of power and control now rests with what, until Thursday morning, was the opposition, dominated by the SNP.

The dramatic turn of events was prompted by a vote in February to raise council tax by a record 10 per cent, flying in the face of a pledge by First Minister Humza Yousaf at the SNP conference last October that council tax bills would be frozen across Scotland.

That 10 per cent increase was backed by all the members of the TALIG coalition.

Fifteen councillors from the Strategic Opposition Partnership - most of whose members are from the SNP - had signed a requisition calling for the meeting following the February vote.

Dougie Philand (Independent, Mid Argyll) replaces Maurice Corry (Conservative, Lomond North) as Provost, and Jim Lynch (SNP, Oban South and the Isles) replaces Robin Currie (LibDem, Kintyre and the Islands) as council leader.

All other convener positions and external posts are now void and will be decided at the next regular council meeting on April 25.

Before then, however, a further special council meeting is due to take place on April 15, at which it's expected the 10 per cent council tax rise will be reversed.

The first council tax payment of the new financial year was due on April 1, and accounted for the 10 per cent increase.

But amended council tax bills will be issued to all households in Argyll and Bute if a freeze is agreed.

Gary Mulvaney (Conservative, Helensburgh Central), who had been depute leader until Thursday's vote, claimed that TALIG had secured extra money from the Scottish Government as a result of talks held following the vote for a tax rise.

Initially it looked like the opposition's bid to seize power might be facing defeat, with Scottish Green councillor Luna Martin (Oban North and Lorn) not present when the meeting began. 

But Cllr Martin arrived in time for the votes.

Speaking in favour of his motion to make Cllr Philand the new Provost, Cllr Lynch said he didn't think the council could continue the way it had been.

He said committee structures needed to be looked at and there needed to be a "better way forward".

And he said area committees should have more power as well as accountability.

"We need a strategy to sell to communities," he said.

"We seem to have lost contact with some of the communities.

"Today gives us an opportunity to start a programme of change."

Councillor Robin Currie, who went into the meeting as the council's leader, outlined a lengthy list of accomplishments made under his leadership.

He said: "This administration has proved time and time again that we provide strong and stable leadership, that we are open to working in partnership, that we are willing to face up to the tough decisions that impact every single council in Scotland, and that while doing so, we keep an eye on the bigger picture and the longer term."

Cllr Mulvaney said "stability and change can go together" and pleaded for stability for the coming years.

"From today, we need to go forward with stability, because that's what our communities expect," he said.

"I'm very proud of the leadership we have provided in recent times."

The vote for provost was tied at 18 apiece after Cllr Macpherson sided with the opposition.

He was elected in May 2022, representing the South Kintyre ward, as a Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate, but announced in December of that year that he had left the ruling administration - and was later suspended from the Conservative group.

Cllr Macpherson is now described on the council's website as an independent.

He did not cast a vote at the budget meeting in February.

The tied vote forced a cut of the cards under the council's rules on political appointments.

The highest card determined the successful candidates in both votes.

Provost Corry drew a two of diamonds, and Cllr Philand drew an eight of spades.

After a short adjournment, and with Cllr Philand now chairing the meeting, there was a vote for council leader.

Cllr Mulvaney praised Cllr Currie for demonstrating an "honesty of approach" and that there was "no Machiavellian side to him".

And he insisted the council had more money thanks to the ruling coalition's recent actions.

"The opposition would not have secured extra money to allow us to freeze the council tax," he said.

He said he remembered a previous SNP-led Argyll and Bute administration that couldn't work with others "because the strings were being tugged by Edinburgh".

Again, the vote was a draw, at 18 councillors each.

A new pack of cards was produced, and Cllr Currie drew the six of hearts, while Cllr Lynch drew the 10 of spades.

Council officers confirmed all other political appointments are void as a result of the two votes, including policy leads, committee chair posts, and appointments to outside bodies, among them the integration joint board which oversees the work of Argyll and Bute's health and social care partnership, and the Argyll and Bute Licensing Board.

The only appointees who remain in place are those who serve on the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority and the board of NHS Highland, because those appointments are made by Scottish ministers, not the council.

The night before the meeting, Cllr Macpherson gave a strong indication of the way he was planning to vote when he posted on Facebook to say he was "of the considered opinion the TALIG administration leadership have been disingenuous with Argyll and Bute's taxpayers".

Thursday's votes means that meetings of the council's planning, protective services and licensing committee on April 17, and of the Argyll and Bute Licensing Board on April 23, will now not take place.