No change in town house balance after by-elections
● Conservatives and SNP take vacant seats in Bridge of Don votes
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