Attempted coup led to council meltdown, claims councillor

On the day that Dumfries and Galloway Counil leader Ivor Hyslop stepped down, his colleagues have rallied round in support of his leadership over the past six years.

Now facing a Labour/SNP coalition administration, the council held a crunch meeting where councillor Hyslop resigned and chairs were appointed to committees.

Afterwards, Conservative Mid-Galloway councillor Graham Nicol spoke to The Gazette and said: “Today is a very sad day for Dumfries and Galloway. This whole situation has been brought about by the misguided ambitions of a few people who are totally unaware of the complexities of political life and have no political awareness whatsoever.

“This whole sad affair started with an attempted coup of the Conservative group, which, once achieved, left the people involved realising they had no real power and it became obviious as time progressed and they withdrew from the political process - including not going to group meetings as per group constitution, and not attending meetings that were very important for the ongoing running of the administration.

“The chairman of the group should have takem control after the secretary of the group resigned, but this lack of leadershp from the chair, Mrs Tuckfield, further aggravated the situation and eventually these people withdrew and we finished up with, unfortunately, two sides within the Conservative group.

“At no time up until last week was there ever mention of a lack of confidence in the leader, Ivor Hyslop, and that obviously showed a lack of appreciation of political awareness which was borne out of the wonderful strength of support for Ivor on his stepping down from the administration at the meeting.

“The tributes were warm and sincere from all political leaders except the leader of the independent Conservative group, whose silence on this subject was noted. It is obvious that this other Conservative group have totally misread the situation - including their popularity within the council - and their naivety is now plain for all to see.

“Unfortunately, the real losers here are the people of Dumfries and Galloway because we had one of the best councils in Scotland - widely acknowledged by both local and non-local government. It is sacrilegious that this was brought down by a misguided few people who put their personal ambitions before the needs of the people of Dumfries and Galloway and the council.”

Responding to the change of administration, Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Alex Fergusson said: “I am obviously saddened that the Conservative-led coalition that has done such a good job over the last 18 months, under the most difficult of circumstances, has come to an end. I believe that the coalition has delivered a good deal for the Council Tax payers of the Region, despite the extremely difficult financial environment in which it has had to operate. It has done so by putting aside party political differences in order to deliver the best possible outcome for the people it serves, and I hope that the incoming Labour-led coalition will be capable of doing the same thing.

I have been involved in party politics for long enough to know that it can sometimes be a tough and uncompromising environment and I believe that loyalty has a huge part to play in any Party. While there have been obvious differences within the Conservative Group of Councillors, which I very much regret have been played out in the public domain, I was delighted that the honesty and integrity of the former Leader, Ivor Hyslop, has now been recognised by the vast majority of Councillors of all parties, to the extent that he has been appointed as Chair of the Scrutiny Committee.

“For the sake of the council tax payers of Dumfries and Galloway, I wish the new administration well.”