No change in town house bal­ance af­ter by-elec­tions

● Con­ser­va­tives and SNP take va­cant seats in Bridge of Don votes

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY JON HEBDITCH

Ahigh-pro­file dou­ble by­elec­tion in Aberdeen’s largest sub­urb has re­sulted in stale­mate – with vot­ers choos­ing to back the Con­ser­va­tives and SNP.

In a close-run race, Tory Sarah Cross topped the poll with 1,857 first pref­er­ence votes while the SNP’s Jes­sica Men­nie won 1,797.

The re­sult leaves the po­lit­i­cal make-up of the coun­cil ad­min­is­tra­tion un­changed.

Fol­low­ing the death of the SNP’s Sandy Stu­art and the res­ig­na­tion of Tory Brett Hunt as Bridge of Don coun­cil­lor, a rare dou­ble by-elec­tion was held in the four-mem­ber ward.

Op­po­si­tion SNP and Lib­eral Demo­crat groups had a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to change the play­ing field at the town house – with the pos­si­bil­ity of chal­leng­ing the rul­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion for con­trol.

But af­ter yes­ter­day’s re­sult the ad­min­is­tra­tion en­joys a two-mem­ber ma­jor­ity over the op­po­si­tion par­ties – with 23 coun­cil­lors in the rul­ing coali­tion against 21.

A by-elec­tion will be held in the Torry and Fer­ry­hill ward fol­low­ing the re­cent res­ig­na­tion of the SNP’s Ca­tri­ona MacKen­zie.

Should the Na­tion­al­ists or Lib Dems win the seat it would once again leave the ad­min­is­tra­tion with a sin­gle mem­ber ma­jor­ity.

Yes­ter­day the Lib­eral Democrats took third place, pick­ing up 929 first pref­er­ence votes, push­ing Labour into fourth.

It was a deeply dis­ap­point­ing re­sult for Labour, whose can­di­date Graeme Lawrence – a for­mer coun­cil­lor for Dyce, Dane­stone and Bucks­burn – at­tracted just 305 first pref­er­ences.

In 2017, Bridge of Don Labour coun­cil­lor Wil­lie Young lost his seat af­ter gain­ing 805 first pref­er­ences – mean­ing the party has dropped 500 votes in the sub­urb in just over two years.

Vot­ers gen­er­ally backed the main po­lit­i­cal par­ties, with in­de­pen­dent Si­mon McLean re­ceiv­ing 43 first bal­lots, Sylvia Hardie of the Greens 140, Ukip’s Phillip Clarke 55 and Max McKay of the Red Party of Scot­land just nine.

Com­pared to 2017, the Con­ser­va­tives in­creased their vote share by more than 10%, while the SNP put on 0.8%.

De­spite the high pro­file of the by-elec­tion and prom­i­nent me­dia cov­er­age, turnout was rel­a­tively stan­dard at 34% with 5,201 cast­ing bal­lots.

Miss Cross said her long time liv­ing in the sub­urb had given her an in­sight into the is­sues in Bridge of Don – and that vot­ers were “send­ing a mes­sage” to Holy­rood.

Ms Men­nie said her fo­cus on lo­cal is­sues had also paid div­i­dends.

“I would like to thank ev­ery­one for their hard work in ‘team Aberdeen SNP’ as we have run a great cam­paign,” she said.

Labour can­di­date Mr Lawrence said: “This was al­ways go­ing to be a hard elec­tion for Labour given we did not have a coun­cil­lor in the ward.

“I am con­fi­dent that come the 2022 lo­cal elec­tions, Labour will gain a seat in the Bridge of Don.”

The Torry and Fer­ry­hill vote is on Novem­ber 21.

TAL­LY­ING UP: Party work­ers try to keep up with the of­fi­cial vote coun­ters as last night’s bal­lots are checked and added up

Sarah Cross came first

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