A veteran councillor has stood down as Depute Provost after what he described as a “change in dynamic” at the local authority.
Liberal Democrat Willie Wilson said it had been a “pleasure and a delight” to serve as Provost Dennis Melloy’s second for nearly two-and-a-half years but called for an end to the “toxicity” of national politics that he said he started to seep into the council chamber.
During an impassioned leaving speech, he thanked officers for their support, praised the council’s executive team and urged leader Murray Lyle that his new minority Conservative administration should be open to “scrutiny and transparency”.
His resignation as depute provost – he will stay on as councillor for Perth City South – follows the Liberal Democrat group’s ejection from the administration.
Following an emergency meeting in early September, Mr Lyle announced the Tory group would go it alone after the controversial suspension of two Tory councillors.
Mr Wilson said he had a “number of reasons” for his decision and “they are all straight forward, not Machiavellian in any way.”
He said he had intended to pass on the reins to a new depute provost some time this year and his responsibilities within the Liberal Democrat party had increased, leading to more travel and work.
“Obviously, there has been a change in dynamic in the political structure at the council and this seems to be the most appropriate time to move on.
“I would say to Murray Lyle, I hope that whatever new arrangements are pertained at the council after today are subject to the transparency and scrutiny that they ought to be.”
Mr Wilson told Mr Murray: “I hope that whatever these arrangements are, they enjoy the integrity, the hard work, loyalty, friendship, that you have enjoyed from the Scottish Liberal Democrat group over the last two-and-a-bit years.”
He added: “We live in difficult times, and sometimes we gain pleasure from seeing the headlines in the paper, and sometimes we may sigh and sometimes there’s dismay.
“But there are disagreements and arguments. Two referendums have caused splits in Scotland and the United Kingdom. I look at this as regretful and sometimes reprehensible.
“Sometimes some of that toxicity has spilled over into this chamber and it is my wish that that will diminish or stop after today, and I say that very sincerely.”
Conservative councillor Kathleen Baird was selected as new Depute Provost.
At the same meeting, Liberal Democrat group leader Peter Barrett was replaced as Housing and Communities Convener by Conservative Bob Brawn.