SNP back in control of the council

THE electorate has returned two serving councillors and two new faces to represent the Forfar and District ward on Angus Council, which is now back under the control of the Scottish National Party.

On a Friday morning of high drama, following a day of polling on the Thursday, the SNP’s Lynne Devine and Glennis Middleton cruised through at stage one of the single transferable vote process, with 986 and 928 first preference votes respectively.

They were joined by Independents Ian McLaren (841 first preference votes) and Colin Brown (787 first preference votes).

The unsuccessful candidates were John Rymer (Conservative), Charlie Brown (Independent) and Avril Simpson (Liberal Democrat).

For Lynne Devine and Ian McLaren serving the community on Angus Council will be a new experience.

“I am very much looking forward to serving Forfar and District on the council,” explains Lynne Devine, who actually stood as an unsuccessful candidate against Alistair Darling in Edinburgh in 1992.

“On behalf of Glennis Middelton and myself I would like to thank the electorate for putting their faith in us and we are both looking forward to serving them in the forthcoming term of office.

“I went round a lot of local organisations in the run-up to the elections and found there is a lot of good stuff going on out there, while there are things that can be done better.

“Having been a teacher I would probably like to be involved in education, but I am also interested in other aspects of council work, such as economic development.”

Ian McLaren, who runs his own hairdressing business in Forfar, has no plans to lay down his clippers following his success as an Independent candidate.

“I am very honoured to have been elected as a councillor, and plan to continue to run the salon alongside my duties with the local authority,” he commented on Monday.

“I will be working in the best interests of the people of Forfar and District, endeavouring to listen to what they have to say and representing them to the best of my ability.

“Being new to local government I will need a little time to find my feet, but it’s a role I am looking forward to. I thank all those who gave me their support at last week’s election.”

In nearby Kirriemuir and Dean ward the electorate plumped for the husband and wife team of Iain and Jeanette Gaul, representing the SNP, and former Kirriemuir Community Council chairman Roland Proctor (Conservative).

The four members elected to represent Arbroath West and Letham ward were Alex King and Ewan Smith of the Scottish National Party, David Lumgair (Conservative) and David Fairweather (Independent).

The election claimed a number of high-profile scalps.

In addition to John Rymer, Alison Andrews (Liberal Democrat) failed to hold her seat in Kirriemuir and Dean and Peter Nield (Independent) lost out in Arbroath West and Letham, as the SNP edged towards the 15 seats they required to regain control of the council.

The fourteen others comprise eight independents, four Conservatives and one Labour member, the Liberal-Democrats being wiped out altogether.

Having won the majority of seats on the local authority, the SNP group met on Sunday to pave the way for taking over the reins from the rainbow alliance, ahead of the first meeting of the new council on Tuesday of next week (May 15).

At Sunday’s get-together, Councillor Iain Gaul was chosen to lead the group, and, as such, is odds-on favourite to replace Bob Myles as the new leader of council.

Depute leader of the SNP group is Paul Valentine of Montrose, with Brechin’s Mairi Evans as secretary.

Speaking on Monday, Councillor Gaul said he was delighted to have been returned as a councillor for Kirriemuir and Dean ward, where his wife Jeanette was also successful.

Although the SNP group can go it alone on the council, members are keen to work with other councillors for the greater good of the county.

“I have already spoken to other non-SNP councillors and offered them the hand of friendship,” commented Mr Gaul.

The make-up of the administration will become much clearer next Tuesday, when a statutory meeting of the new council will be held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar.

That’s when many of the big questions will be answered. Who will follow in the footsteps of Ruth Leslie Melville as Provost of Angus, and who will get the depute provost’s position.

The heads of the various committees will also require to be decided - positions up for grabs including the convener and vice-convener of the civic licensing, corporate services, development management review, development standards, education, infrastructure services, neighbourhood services, social work and health and strategic policy committees.