The SNP lost a seat to the Liberal Democrats when the votes from Thursday’s twin by-elections for Perth and Kinross Council were tallied.
The SNP were defending both seats but lost the southern position to the Liberal Democrats despite getting their noses in front during first preference votes.
Liz Barrett, who narrowly missed out on election at a prior by-election in the same ward three years and four days earlier topped the polls at the final round of counting at the Dewars Centre.
With 44% of the electorate from Craigie, Oakbank and Burghmuir turning out to vote – a fraction higher than the previous South by-election – polling was tight at first preference level and exactly 200 votes separated the Lib Dems, SNP and Conservatives.
But as the second and third choices were factored in, it was Liz Barrett who pulled out in front and wrapped up the victory.
She will now join husband Peter as the second husband-and-wife elected to Perth and Kinross Council.
Mrs Barrett said: “I’m delighted to be elected and very grateful to everyone who voted for me and supported me.
“My priorities are climate emergency, road safety, young people and trying to protect services for the vulnerable.
“I’ve been living and breathing election for the last few weeks.
“People were delighted to see us on the doorstep and really pleased we made the effort.”
Massive congratulations to the whole team, Liz Barrett will make an excellent councillor for Perth! https://t.co/IExiA6qeXv
— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) November 27, 2020
In the north, covering the Western Edge, Letham, Tulloch and Fairfield, the SNP held onto their seat comfortably.
Candidate Ian Massie wrapped up the result, increasing the party’s share of the vote despite turnout being only 25.5%, the lowest of any by-election during this council term with numerous contributing factors.
2,305 valid votes were cast, with 61% of the first choice preferences in favour of the victorious Perth businessman.
After being elected, Mr Massie thanked his family and Dave Doogan for “setting the groundwork.”
Ian said: “I am delighted the people of Perth City North have put their faith in me to represent them at Perth and Kinross Council.
— ian massie (@ianmassie1) November 27, 2020
“Dave Doogan MP did a fantastic job as the previous councillor for this area and I will continue his great work alongside my fellow SNP ward councillor John Rebbeck.
“This result demonstrates that the people of Perth City North have faith in the SNP to deliver for hard-working families as we are doing across the country. Not only did we win the election, but we increased our voting margin significantly too.
“I will represent all in City North and I look forward to getting started.”
The Conservatives missed out on the opportunity to grow their minority administration towards a majority.
However, candidates Andy Chan and Aziz Rehman both hinted at considering standing again in future after garnering more than 2,000 first preference votes between them in their first political ventures.