An independent Angus councillor who caused controversy by joining the SNP earlier this year has now left the party after admitting he doesn’t support the idea of independence.
Carnoustie councillor Bill Bowles became a member of the SNP in April though he remained an independent councillor but now says he made a mistake.
Mr Bowles has issued an apology to anyone who thinks he “betrayed his independent status” although he insists that he continued to act as an independent councillor.
He said he joined the SNP in a bid to influence their policies.
However, talks about becoming an SNP councillor fell apart when he revealed that he did not believe Scotland should become independent.
Mr Bowles said the “icing on the cake” were the cuts to local authority budgets announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney on Wednesday.
“I thought that after the referendum, the SNP were going to look to be a progressive party within the remit of being part of the UK,” he said.
“In order to try to influence policy I decided to join the SNP. But it was pretty evident from the party when I went to an assessment centre that my views weren’t welcome.
“I mentioned that I didn’t believe that Scotland should be an independent country.
“The attitude to that was ‘if you’re not for independence what are you doing here?’
“I was talking about taxation and that we needed to put council tax up because councillors are strapped for cash (the reply was) that’s not going to happen because we are helping hard-pressed working families. All that nonsense was coming out.
“We never saw eye to eye so I questioned what I had done and I thought I had made a mistake right from the start.”
Mr Bowles described the £6.5 million cut to Angus Council’s budget announced last week as “atrocious”.
He continued: “I cannot see how we can possibly perform as a council and provide the services with the budget we have been given. I think it’s an atrocious mess.”
Mr Bowles said he would like to see Scotland act as a federal state within the United Kingdom, while issues such as foreign policy remained a UK decision.
He said the last eight months had not been any different for him as a councillor.
“I haven’t acted as an SNP councillor. I’ve sat on the fence and acted as an independent,” he said.
“I’ve supported amendments which have been put in by non-administration members. I’ve not acted as an SNP councillor because I never was and I never will be.
“I apologise to the people who think I betrayed my independence status. I never did.”
Responding to the news, Angus Council leader Iain Gaul said: “What Bill Bowles does, joins, leaves is entirely Mr Bowles’s business.
“He remained an independent councillor and did not make any moves to join the SNP group.”