ARGYLL and Bute’s Liberal Democrat councillors could be set to join forces with the authority’s new ruling coalition.

The party’s five Argyll and Bute councillors were previously part of the Argyll, Lomond and Islands Group (Talig), alongside Conservatives and some independents for 11 years.

But Talig lost control of the authority on April 4 after a dramatic power grab – initiated after a row over the council's vote in February in favour of a 10% increase in council tax – by SNP, Labour, Green and other independent councillors ended in a cut of the cards.

The new administration has since confirmed the decision to impose a 10% hike in council tax has been reversed, and the charge will be frozen alongside every other Scottish council area.

Talks are now being held which could see the LibDems group join forces with the new ruling coalition.

READ MORE: SNP succeed in bid to take control of Unionist-run Scottish council

LibDems councillor Robin Currie was replaced as leader on April 4 by SNP councillor Jim Lynch SNP, while Independent councillor Dougie Philand replaced Conservative councillor Maurice Corry as Provost.

Talig’s leader, Tory councillor Yvonne McNeilly has promised a “very strong and competent opposition” to the new administration, whether or not it includes LibDem councillors.

In a statement to Talig members on Tuesday, April 16, Currie said: “The LibDem group have entered into discussions with the SNP administration and as such we give notice that we are now removing ourselves from TALIG as of today.

“We have all enjoyed working with you all and we did operate as an effective and stable administration. I personally thank you all for your extraordinary support over the years as it was much appreciated.

“However, the prospect of being in opposition didn’t fill me with much joy and, while realising that the way ahead may be rocky, I think it’s best that we are in partnership with the administration group.

“At this point in time, no deal has been signed, but we are moving forward.”

The National: Liberal Democrats

Currie, who represents the Kintyre and the Islands ward, then told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It was a simple resignation email to the group.

“This means that the LibDem members are a group of five and yes, we are having discussions with the Strategic Partnership on the way forward, and we will see what transpires from that.”

Councillor Alastair Redman, who represents the Kintyre and the Islands ward as an Independent, hit out at the LibDems for their decision to leave Talig.

Redman said: “It seems both the leadership of the SNP and the LibDems in Argyll and Bute have very little integrity and credibility at all.

“How Alan Reid and Alex Cole-Hamilton can now claim to be fighting for our union in the next UK election is beyond me.  The LibDems have become SNP coat-tailors, nothing more.”

The council has already met for the first time since power was passed over, in a special meeting on Monday, April 15 which saw council tax frozen after initially being increased by 10%.

Political management arrangements are expected to be discussed at a scheduled full council meeting on Thursday, April 25.

The area’s four other Liberal Democrat councillors – Graham Hardie, Paul Kennedy, Ross Moreland and William Sinclair – have all been contacted for comment, along with the council’s former depute leader, Helensburgh Central Conservative councillor Gary Mulvaney.