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Council election: Deals to be done after high-profile SNP casualties at Angus count

Glennis Middleton, who lost her seat in Forfar, with her husband Bill
Glennis Middleton, who lost her seat in Forfar, with her husband Bill

There were several high-profile SNP casualties as the results started to come in at the Saltire Centre in Arbroath on Friday.

A surge in support for the Conservatives saw several well established councillors lose their seats.

The first ward, Kirriemuir and Dean, set the tone of what was to come with Jeanette Gaul losing her seat to new Conservative candidate Angus McMillan Douglas.

COUNCIL ELECTIONS: Your guide to all of the Angus Council results

Then long serving Forfar councillor Glennis Middleton lost her seat to Conservative Braden Davy.

Liberal Democrat Richard Moore then edged out the SNP’s Donald Morrison, who had swapped from the Arbroath East to Arbroath West constituency, before another long serving councillor, Sheena Welsh, lost her seat in the Arbroath East and Lunan ward.

Meanwhile eight of the nine Conservatives standing for election won seats.

The party Carnoustie candidate Terry O’Halloran only very narrowly failed to take the seat, with only 16 first preference votes fewer than Independent David Cheape who was elected.

PICTURES: Losses for SNP and gains for Tories at Angus local council elections

It was a good day for the Liberal Democrats who previously held one seat in Montrose. They doubled that number, taking seats in Monifieth and Sidlaw and Arbroath West, Letham and Friockheim.

Meanwhile, Labour was completely shut out by the electorate. Their only councillor during the last council, Margaret Thompson, stood down from the Monifieth and Sidlaw ward.

There were hundreds of spoilt ballots as some voters struggled to come to grips with the voting system.

‘Angus Alliance’ discussions get under way

Informal discussions are under way about an ‘Angus Alliance’ being formed to keep the SNP out of power in Angus Council.

The Conservatives doubled the number of seats it holds on the council from four to eight while the SNP total dropped from 14 to nine in a series of shock results.

Nine independents were returned, along with two Liberal Democrats.

Brechin and Edzell independent councillor Bob Myles, who previously led the Angus Alliance, which had power in Angus from 2007 to 2012, said he would consider taking on the leadership role again if he were asked.

He said it was clear that an alliance of some sort would have to be formed.

“I am prepared to work with other groups to get the best for Angus,” he said.

“It looks like there will definitely need to be an alliance of some sort and the Angus Alliance worked very well.

“Anyone looking to join that as a party or individual would be very welcome.

“In the past it worked very well ignoring party politics and we tried to make the best decisions we could.”

Arbroath West, Letham and Friockheim independent councillor David Fairweather said he would consider taking on a “senior position”.

He said: “I’m absolutely shocked what has happened to the SNP but it just shows you the people have come out and made it quite clear what their preferences are.

“I think this is going to be an extremely difficult administration to put together. The normal horse trading will start. I will make a decision after I have spoken to all the relevant parties.

“If I felt it was the right administration and if it worked for Angus I would be prepared to take on one of the senior positions.”

Former Angus Alliance finance convenor Mark Salmond said: “I am not ruling myself out of anything, I will see that needs done and the opportunities that are there.”

Independent Carnoustie councillor Brian Boyd said: “The fun will begin. Some people have started to lobby already. As I said in my flyer I will work with whoever wins the election.

“I’m keeping an open mind at the moment.”

Arbroath West, Letham and Friockheim SNP councillor Alex King, who served as Provost following the death of Carnoustie councillor Helen Oswald last year, said he would be happy to put his name forward for that role.

“I would be happy to do that, but I fully accept that may not be my choice,” he said.

“There will be all sorts of discussions taking place in the days ahead, but I just don’t know what is going to happen.”

New Monifieth and Sidlaw Liberal Democrat councillor Ben Lawrie said he wouldn’t be willing to work with an SNP administration given the cuts made to services by the previous council.


Analysis: Back to the future for an Angus Alliance?

In more than three decades of covering elections at every level in Angus I can’t recall a situation where so many victors looked so downcast, writes Graham Brown.

That was what happened as the SNP took a bit of a hiding in their traditional Angus stronghold.

Local elections always bring change and with the national and European context very much part of the picture, the Tories and Independents both played up their prospects.

But the scale of the Conservative bounce and the casualties it claimed took everyone by surprise.

The shocks came from the off as Jeanette Gaul –a rumoured contender for the post of leader vacated by her husband Iain – flopped in her bid for re-election in Kirrie.

Glennis Middleton in Forfar and Arbroath’s Donald Morrison and Sheena Welsh were other long-serving and hugely experienced Nationalist departures.

In some ways we have, however, been here before with the election before last which gave rise to the coalition Angus Alliance.

That had its problems and the Angus electorate must now wait to see the outcome of the dealings to be done in the days ahead – and whether those who were part of that rainbow administration can learn from the experience and leave its less memorable aspects in the past.

But it’s difficult to see how they will not get another bite at the cherry in another return to the non-administration sidelines for the Nationalists.