Angus Council’s administration has been plunged into fresh crisis in a ruling coalition split which has cost the council leader his job.
Just weeks after surviving a failed coup to oust him from the top spot, Edzell Independent councillor Bob Myles was felled by a motion of no confidence at a ‘stormy’ administration group meeting in Forfar on Tuesday, with suggestions Mr Myles will be a ‘puppet leader’ until the summer recess.
Council SNP opposition leader Lynne Devine branded the unexpected development as “yet another example of a chaotic and disorganised council administration.”
Mr Myles has denied he was dumped by a vote of no confidence but confirmed he will leave the leader’s chair this summer.
Administration councillors closed ranks in the wake of the latest turn of events, although this week’s meeting was described as “brutal” by one senior source.
In January Mr Myles said he was ‘not watching his back’, describing a failed coup at that time as a ‘fanciful description of people having open-minded free thinking on anything and everything’.
Since returning to power last May, the rainbow coalition administration has endured a number of crises, including the high-profile resignation of two of its members – veteran Independent Arbroath West and Letham councillor David Fairweather, and Carnoustie Independent councillor David Cheape.
Mr Fairweather subsequently returned to the ruling body having previously criticised what he branded the ‘bungled’ handling of a review of skip site provision which continues to be mired in controversy and complaints by residents across the district.
Mr Myles refused to confirm or deny that a motion of no confidence had taken place, but admitted the leader’s role had brought with it ‘uncomfortable’ decisions.
He has, however, not ruled out stepping away from the controlling group when he relinquishes the leader’s chair.
“When the new administration was formed, I agreed to lead the group, but it was always the position that we would look at how we were doing after about a year, and make a re-assessment of the skills and talents within the group.
“I will be standing down as leader, but the appropriate time to do that is during the recess.”
It is thought the step-down will take place following the last full Angus Ciouncil meeting on June 14 before the authority breaks for the summer recess.
Mr Myles added: “It has proved very difficult juggling the full-time role of farming with the full-time role of being leader of the council.
“Budgetary constraints mean that we have had to take a number of decisions that I have been very uncomfortable with, and this also means that there are things we haven’t been able to deliver.
“I remain committed to doing my best for my constituents, although I am unsure at the moment whether I will remain in the administration after the summer – but I do have a lot to offer.”
“Not the right person for the job”
Opposition councillors have responded to the change at the helm of Angus council.
SNP group leader and Forfar and District SNP councillor Lynne Devine said: “We have been aware of the rumours circulating about this for some time, but we have had no contact from the administration, so there is uncertainty about what is actually going on.
“What is clear, however, is that this is yet another example of a chaotic and disorganised council administration.
“Unfortunately, this move simply confirms what we have been experiencing in the council chamber – that this administration is embarrassing.
“We all know that the council is facing financial challenges, but the fact is that this debacle is not doing the council any good whatsoever,” she added
Carnoustie and District Independent councillor Brian Boyd said: “What the council does not need is uncertainty of this type.
“As I have always said, the role should go to the right people in the right jobs, but under the leadership of Councillor Myles, what we have been seeing has been jobs for the boys.
“I welcome the fact that a reshuffle may be on the cards, and this is an opportunity to try and get the right people in the right jobs. After all, it is in the best interests of the people of Angus that allocated posts reflect the skill and experience of the holder.
“Mr Myles was not the right person for the job of leader”.
Mr Boyd added: “I believe that the administration has simply been tarred as the old Angus Alliance because of the same leadership, when what Angus really needed was a fresh approach.
“We are living and working in financially challenging times, and I think it is absolutely vital that with this in mind, we look at the pool of talent and appoint people accordingly.
“The new leader must come with new, fresh ideas and I will lend my support to positive, constructive projects that benefit Angus,” he added.