After the final vote had been counted and the last result announced, Cecil Meiklejohn knew a new chapter in her political career was about to be written.
On May 5 the 52-year-old leader of the SNP Group on Falkirk Council had what she had probably dreamed of when she joined the party as a teenager – the chance as boss of the largest party to lead an administration to take Falkirk district to a better place under the Nationalist’s banner.
As the dust settled on a race for the town hall that had delivered 12 SNP, nine Labour, seven Conservative and two independent councillors, she grabbed it with both hands.
The SNP’s manifesto pledge to move Falkirk forward and make it stronger had hit the right note with many of the electorate, but not enough of them to give her the 15 councillors she wanted in the Municipal Buildings.
Meiklejohn’s response to missing out on the three additional seats she craved was bold and designed to set the tone.
She offered to work in partnership with Labour, but when that got nowhere moved seamlessly to ‘Plan B’ and on May 24 formed a minority administration with the support of one of the two independents elected.
Discussions between Labour and the Tories about a possible coalition which also came to nothing gave her the opening, and Meiklejohn, who knows that in town hall politics things can change quickly and a pact between the SNP’s two biggest rivals could still be signed relegating the SNP once again to the role of the opposition, is determined to make the most of it.
From their first day in office the SNP has focussed on delivering what it pledged before polling day: tackling the anticipated £38 million budget deficit over the next two years without damaging frontline services and the workforce; attracting inward investment to boost the local economy by creating more well paid jobs; regenerating our town centres by re-populating them; build more new social housing faster; improve attainment in our schools; and tackle poverty in our communities.
Now 123 days into the job, the SNP agenda with her hand firmly on the helm is moving forward.
The leader told The Falkirk Herald: “I’m determined this administration will make a difference and leave a legacy. Officers have been briefed and good working relationships are being established. I want to see this council operating efficiently and effectively for the benefit of everyone.
“There will be transparency every step of the way and I still believe that everything we are aiming for can be achieved by listening to and working with every elected member, particularly the Labour Group because of the common goals we share, to deliver for the people of Falkirk district.
“A good working relationship with Labour would have brought stability, but when that did not happen I took the decision we were ready to step up and lead. In the weeks and months ahead however I want to avoid stalemates and encourage every councillor to take an active role in the decision making process.”