Vot­ers go to the polls as win­ner does not take seat

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News - Ju­dith Ton­ner

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.”

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