SNP romp home in by-election

Celebration time for the Nationalists

SCOTTISH Nationalists were celebrating after a surprise

victory in last Thursday's Grangemouth by-election.

Angus MacDonald's 603 votes were 56 per cent of all those cast in a contest which even SNP stalwarts admitted gave them a "sensational" win in the Inchyra ward.

His majority of 321 votes put him well ahead of Labour's Stephen Barr, who polled 282, while the two Independents, Tom Wilson and Jimmy Dunn, received 169 and 28 votes respectively.

However, in the week before Christmas and with the weather wet most of the day, only one in three voters turned out.

The by-election followed the death of Councillor Tam O'Dea at the end of October. Mr O'Dea was originally elected as a Labour candidate in 1996, defeating Mr McDonald, the sitting councillor, before leaving the party and standing as an Independent.

Falkirk Council's newest member said: "The SNP presented a positive campaign and the people endorsed it in significant numbers. We were keen to promote the achievments of the SNP/Independent administration and the ambition they have for Grangemouth – that appeared to strike a chord.

"I am now looking forward to representing the people of the ward in the custom they have become used to. As well as thanking the countless SNP members who came to work for this victory, I would like to thank the family of the late Tam O'Dea for their support."

Mr MacDonald (41), was born in Stornoway and moved to Grangemouth around 20 years ago. He was a member of Falkirk District Council from 1992-96. His victory maintains the status quo in Falkirk Council with the SNP/Independent administration having 16 councillors, Labour 14 and Conservatives two.

Council leader David Alexander said: "He will be a first-class councillor for the people of the ward and will work tirelessly in their interest.

"We asked the people to pass judgement on our alternative to New Labour's PFI for Grangemouth High School and regeneration of our district centres. They voted for this in their droves."

Labour depute group leader Dennis Goldie admitted the SNP "fought a good campaign".

However, Councillor Goldie said events nationally, including last Thursday's announcement on the future plans for the Scottish regiments, affected the Labour vote."