Skye and Raasay elected three new councillors, and rejected three serving ones at yesterday’s Highland Council election.
Independents John Finlayson and Ronald MacDonald, along with the SNP’s Calum MacLeod, were successful in the Eilean a’ Cheò ward. John Gordon, also independent, retained his place – having reached the required quota at the 12th stage of counting under the Single Transferable Vote System used in local authority elections.
Drew Millar, Hamish Fraser and the SNP’s Ian Renwick were all unsuccessful in their bids for re-election.
Mr Finlayson, who recently retired as head teacher at Portree Primary School, topped the poll and reached the required quota of first preference votes at stage one of the count. He won 1449 first preference votes, with Ronald MacDonald clear in second on 717. Calum MacLeod gained 626 first preference votes and John Gordon 453.
Because of the high number of candidates on the ballot, it took until stage eight of the count to eventually elect Mr MacLeod, stage nine to elect Mr MacDonald and stage 12 for Mr Gordon. Just over 5,000 votes were cast – a turn out just shy of 60 per cent.
The Eilean a ‘Cheò ward bucked the Highland-wide trend of incumbent councillors generally being successful in defending their seats. But reflecting a national surge the Scottish Conservatives will have their first representation on the local authority for over 20 years, having gained 10 new Highland councillors.
One of the new Highland Tories is Derek Macleod, who was successful in the Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh ward. Independent Biz Campbell, from Glenshiel, and the SNP’s Ian Cockburn were returned, while LibDem Kate Stephen was also successful, having previously served as a councillor in Inverness.
Richard Greene failed in his bid for re-election to the Wester Ross ward.
The SNP’s decision to field two candidates in each ward failed to bring them the gains needed to press for overall control of the council, and the largest group will be the 28 independents.
There are 22 SNP councillors, 10 LibDems, 10 Conservatives, three Labour and one Green.