Voters go to the polls as winner does not take seat
North Lanarkshire Council is preparing for a by-election after a Conservative candidate chosen at the ballot in May failed to take up his post due to ill health.
Voters in the four-member Fortissat ward, which includes Salsburgh, will be going back to the polls on September 7 to choose a new representative for the area after Sandy Thornton confirmed that he would be unable to take his seat.
Nominations for the by-election open next Wednesday and close on August 3.
SNP opposition members accused the Conservatives of having fielded a “paper candidate” and called on the party to pay the costs of staging the “needless” by-election, understood to be approximately £25,000.
However, Conservative party officials hit back, defending Mr Thornton and noting that by-elections have also been required following SNP councillors ’elections to parliament in recent years.
Fortissat SNP councillor Tommy Cochrane said:“The Conservative party should apologise to the people of Fortissat for fielding a candidate knowing that he had no desire to represent this community.
“It’s completely unfair that the council’s already-stretched budget is put under further pressure; I call on the Conservative party to pay all the associated costs.”
Conservative group leader Meghan Gallacher responded: “If Councillor Cochrane had any decency, he would have contacted my group to find that Mr Thornton is not well enough to take his seat.
“His health deteriorated throughout the [election] campaign; and I find it disgusting that an SNP councillor has acted in this manner. I ask him to apologise to Sandy Thornton.”
The current composition of the council is 32 Labour members – who run a minority administration – 33 SNP, 10 Conservatives and two independents.
A council spokesman said: “Mr Thornton has confirmed that he is unable to accept his term of office to serve as a councillor in Fortissat ward.”