Shouts of joy – and more than a few in disbelief were heard as the results of the 2017 local government elections were announced.
During Friday’s count at Grangemouth Sports Complex, and as a similar picture unfolded across the country, Falkirk Council was turning blue.
The Conservative party made huge gains and, after being a two-man show for over a decade, will have seven members on the new council.
The Scottish Nationalists with 12 members are now the largest party but don’t hold that vital majority.
And while Labour is next in line with nine councillors elected, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that in the tally of first preference votes they were soundly beaten into third place by the Tories.
Several familiar faces were not returned, most noticeably Labour’s Linda Gow after 22 years serving as an elected member. Independent Brian McCabe and Steven Jackson, who this time around didn’t have the SNP ticket, also failed to convince the electorate in big enough numbers to give them their vote.
There will be 11 new faces amongst the 30 councillors, made up of five Conservatives, five SNP and one Labour.
However, which of them will be part of the administration running Falkirk Council for the next four years is still to be decided.
In the corridors of power, talks are going on behind closed doors as the three main parties attempt to strike a deal amongst themselves and with the two independents, Billy Buchanan and Robert Spears.
For almost a decade Labour and the two Tories have formed an alliance to run the administration with John Patrick taking the role of Depute Provost and Malcolm Nicol the convener of the licensing board.
But in 2017 it would be expected that they could be looking for an even bigger role in the running of the council in return for their support.
Malcolm Nicol, who has been a Conservative councillor since 1983, said: “We were obviously delighted with the result. We were hoping for six but when we got seven it was even better.
“However, to take the second largest share of the first preference votes was major progress for our party in the Falkirk area.
“Our priority is to see a stable council. We have worked very well with Labour for almost ten years but now need to look ahead.”
SNP group leader Cecil Meiklejohn said her party was delighted to increase its share of the vote.
With her party nationally making it clear there will be no coalitions with the Tories, she said: “We have already made representations to the Labour group as a social democratic group in terms of working together in some form of partnership.”
Meanwhile, Labour was meeting last night (Wednesday) to elect a new group leader following Craig Martin standing down from local politics.
It is expected whoever they attempt to strike a deal with will have to agree to safeguarding the council’s 6500-plus workforce with a no enforced redundancies policy.
But for now it’s a case of playing the waiting game.
Full list elected to Falkirk Council
Ward 1 - Bo’ness and Blackness
Ann Ritchie (SNP) – 1510
Lynn Munro (Conservative – 1412
David Aitchison (Labour) – 1106
Ward 2 – Grangemouth
David Balfour (SNP) – 1510
Allyson Black (Labour) – 1301
Robert Spears (Independent) – 980
Ward 3 – Denny and Banknock
Paul Garner (SNP) – 1664
Jim Blackwood (Labour) – 965
Nigel Harris (Conservative) – 916
Fiona Collie (SNP) – 884
Ward 4 – Carse, Kinnaird and Tryst
Jim Flynn (Conservative) – 1968
Gary Bouse (SNP) – 1921
Joan Coombes (Labour) – 956
Laura Murtagh (SNP) – 940
Ward 5 – Bonnybridge and Larbert
Tom Coleman (SNP) – 1898
David Grant (Conservative) – 1368
Billy Buchanan (Independent) – 1134
Ward 6 – Falkirk North
David Alexander (SNP) – 2326
Dennis Goldie (Labour) – 1118
Cecil Meiklejohn (SNP) – 1060
Robert Bissett (Labour) – 841
Ward 7 – Falkirk South
Lorna Binnie (SNP) – 2216
John Patrick (Conservative) – 1993
Pat Reid (Labour) – 1686
Ward 8 – Lower Braes
Malcolm Nicol (Conservative) – 1864
Adanna McCue (SNP) – 1632
Alan Nimmo (Labour) – 760
Ward 9 – Upper Braes
James Kerr (Conservative) – 1701
John McLuckie (Labour) – 1342
Gordon hughes (SNP) – 1028