Conservative candidate Dave Coleman has claimed a stunning victory in the Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay by-election.
The Tory hopeful held off the challenge of the SNP’s Neale Hanvey and Labour’s Billy Pollock to secure the seat and join Tory group leader Dave Dempsey in representing the four-councillor ward, alongside the SNP’s Alice McGarry and David Barratt.
The Fife Council seat had been vacant after Labour’s Lesley Laird stood down upon becoming deputy Scottish Labour leader, and all of the region’s main parties were confident going into Thursday’s subsequent by-election.
Initial suggestions as the polls closed at 10pm that it was going to be a three-way fight between the Conservatives, SNP and Labour, but a reported higher turnout in the likes of Dalgety Bay – where the Tories have performed strongly of late – and a lower turnout in the likes of Inverkeithing notably improved the mood about Conservative activists.
Mr Coleman, who has served as the vice-chair of Dalgety Bay and Hillend Community Council, has lived in the area for 30 years and lives with his wife in Hillend.
Understandably delighted with his win, Mr Coleman commented: “I’ve never stood for election before and I’ve really enjoyed chatting to so many friends and neighbours in Dalgety Bay, Inverkeithing, North Queensferry, Aberdour and Hillend over the last few months.”
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Eight candidates in total were vying for the spot on Fife Council, including SNP candidate Mr Hanvey, who was previously SNP group leader on Fife Council before he missed out on re-election in 2017.
He admitted it was always going to be a “big ask”, but thanked everyone who had turned out to assist his campaign.
“We’ve spoken to thousands of voters and the support has been fantastic,” he said.
Another former Fife councillor looking to return to the fold, Labour’s Billy Pollock, received strong backing from Mrs Laird in the area and had been optimistic that his campaign had captured the hearts and minds of many voters.
“It’s been a great campaign, met some great people and had some very interesting chats on the doorstep,” he added.
Liberal Democrat candidate Callum Hawthorne, Green candidate Mags Hall, Scottish Libertarian representative Calum Paul and Independents Peter Collins and Alastair Macintyre were also on the list available to the 14,484 registered voters in the ward to select from.
Issues raised on the doorsteps were said to be varied, ranging from a new Inverkeithing High School and housing matters to concerns about road and rail links.
Counting at Fife House swiftly got under way at 10pm, with 2,979 postal votes issued ahead of yesterday’s public voting day.
The first ballot boxes started arriving from the eight polling stations across the area around 45 minutes later, although it became quickly clear the turnout would fall well short of the 54.3% figure seen at the last council elections in May 2017 – 43.1%.
Dave Coleman – Conservative – 2309
Peter Collins – Independent – 521
Mags Hall – Green – 257
Neale Hanvey – SNP – 1741
Callum Hawthorne – Lib Dems – 566
Alastair Macintyre – Independent – 40
Calum Paul – Scottish Libertarian – 13
Billy Pollock – Labour – 744