SNP delight as they take Loanhead seat

SNP candidate Owen Thompson won the Loanhead by-election last Thursday, gaining a 457 majority over Labour candidate George Purcell, to give the party their first seat on Midlothian Council.

In a surprisingly comfortable victory for the 27-year-old the SNP managed to increase their majority in the ward by nearly 30 per cent and in the process blew away the competition, taking nearly half of all votes cast.

In his victory speech Mr Thompson said: "The SNP team worked hard for this result and I will work equally hard as SNP councillor for the people of Loanhead, regardless of how they voted.

"Two of the many urgent issues I will tackle are the shameful deaths of our pensioners from cold because they cannot afford today's fuel price increases and the sharp increase in council tax."

Mr Thompson, who has lived in Loanhead most of his life and is a graduate of Napier University, emerged as the clear favourite to win the by-election — held following the death of Independent councillor Bill Hoggan — throughout the evening.

The result was confirmed just after 10pm and it was met with a large cheer from the SNP contingent in the hall, led by local party convener Colin Beattie.

Labour candidate George Purcell, who previously served as Loanhead councillor for 17 years, was clearly disappointed by the outcome but said: "I possibly lost some votes to the Independent candidates but this result can be overturned."

Of the three independent candidates standing, both Pat Kenny and Elizabeth Veitch faired well, with 268 and 217 votes respectively.

Speaking following the result Mr Thompson said: "I am absolutely delighted, it has shown that the hard work we have put into Loanhead has really paid off. We have been talking about the issues that really matter to the people of Loanhead and now it is a Resultscase of taking that forward and doing what we can about it.

"People talk about the general disillusionment with politics but if you concentrate on the issues that matter to the local community and listen to what the people have to say then people will turn out and vote. The victory has been the result of a very positive campaign but the hard work starts here."

Full results:

Ian G Baxter (Scottish Green Party) 8

Ken Brown (Scottish Liberal Democrats) 97

Andrew R Hardie (Scottish Conservative and

Unionist Party) 13

Patrick Kenny (Independent) 268

George Purcell (Scottish Labour Party) 311

Owen G Thompson (SNP) 768

Elizabeth M Veitch (Independent) 217

Philip C Veitch (Independent) 9

Spoiled papers 0

Majority 457