Aberdeenshire Council deputy leader Peter Argyle, who also led the local authority’s Liberal Democrat group, has lost his seat in a close race for the Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside ward.
Mr Argyle, who had served on the council for 23 years, was the only serving Liberal Democrat to lose their seat in an election that resulted in a net gain of one for the party.
The group now has 14 councillors in Aberdeenshire – despite losing the Mearns seat that belonged to Provost Bill Howatson before he stood down.
That result was described as an “absolute positive” by Mr Argyle, although he admitted to being “massively disappointed” that he would not be able to join them.
He said: “I really hoped I would get back and continue to work and serve people in Aberdeenshire, but the electorate decided otherwise.
“This is a brutal game, and you’re either in or you’re out. If you’re out, that’s it, end of, pull the curtain, walk away and do something else.”
A journalist before he was elected to the local authority in 1999, Mr Argyle was known during his tenure for his snappy three-piece suits and his eloquent way of talking through local issues.
He said: “I really enjoyed doing it, and I like to think that I achieved some things locally for the good and achieved things for Aberdeenshire as a whole and leaving it as a better place than I found it, which sounds awfully pious.
“But yeah, the curtain’s drawn and that’s it.”
‘Unjust’ treatment of ex-councillors
He used the opportunity to raise the issue of a lack of support given to councillors who are voted out, compared to MPs and MSPs.
“I think that’s something that really does need to be looked at, and I’m not just saying that because I’m in that situation,” he said.
“It just seems somehow unjust that people can serve in a role for many years, or even five years, and then that’s it.
“You get nothing – no redundancy, no notice, walk away. It just doesn’t seem right.”
The three women elected to the ward were Geva Blackett, a former SNP councillor who left the party after the Scottish Government struck up a coalition deal with the Greens, Anouk Kloppert, who switched to the ward after representing Ellon and District since 2017, and Sarah Brown of the Conservatives.
Mr Argyle said the three would face serious challenges over their upcoming five-year term.
He said: “We know that budgets are going to be under huge pressure, we know that there’s going to be this inflation with all the things that are happening, lot of pressure for business.
“It’s not going to be easy for the people in the ward, and therefore it’s not going to be easy for the three who have been elected. But I wish all three well.”
Reflecting on the role he has held since the beginning of the century, he said: “I’m just glad that I’ve had the opportunity to spend 23 years of my life trying to make things better.
“And what more could I ask for? Except another five years…”