First of all, congratulations to Councillors Bob Ellis, Liz Grant and Caroline Shires, as well as Councillors Ian Miller, Alan Grant, Lewis Simpson, and Dennis Melloy. By mainly securing re-election on the first vote clearly demonstrates that the people of East Perthshire value the work they have done over the past five years and I am certain that they will work together for the best interests of everyone in the Blaire area.
Very little changed last Thursday for us in the SNP on Perth and Kinross Council. We remain the largest party with 18 councillors, three short of that elusive overall majority, having increased our share of the vote by 3% and coming very close to adding 2 seats to our tally. We won councillors in every ward in Perth and Kinross and, this week, councillors are now busy working on securing a deal that will deliver a new administration.
It was not so good for the Liberals or Conservatives. The Liberals, following the example of the Liberals nationally, lost two councillors, including their group leader. The Conservatives also lost one councillor and failed to re-take the seat where one of their number became an independent. This was a calamitous result for the Tories in what was once described as their “heartland”.
Nationally, we in the SNP had our best ever council result. We won the election, securing the most councillors and securing the largest share of the vote. We also had the most gains and have ended up with majorities in neighbouring Angus and Dundee. Where the media, as usual, concentrated on Glasgow, the SNP gained councillors in every part of Scotland. We have now won four out of the last five national elections and this sets us up perfectly for the next electoral test, the independence referendum.
Where there were concerns about the low turnout, Perth and Kinross surpassed the national average with an average turnout of 44 %. This was the first stand-alone council election since 1995 and with the lack of media coverage and debates, this was actually quite a respectable turnout.
All our new councillors now face a range of diverse challenges. Councils now have a number of new responsibilities and the decisions that are made in council chambers impact on all aspects of our community. I am looking forward to working constructively with all new and returning councillors and wish them all the best in their important task.