9 May 2007

Nats sweep the board - Banffshire Journal

By Kevin Duguid, Banffshire Journal

STEWART Stevenson was returned to the Banff and Buchan seat on a night of Scottish Parliament success for the SNP, but one of failure for the voting system.

Around 100,000 ballot papers were spoiled throughout Scotland, including a number in Banff and Buchan.

And many postal voters were also disenfranchised after they did not receive their ballot papers in time to return them for inclusion in the count.

However it was an overwhelming victory on all fronts for the SNP in Banff and Buchan.

In both the Banff and District and the Troup multi-member wards it was SNP candidates Ian Gray and Mitchell Burnett who were first to secure enough votes to be elected.

Alex Salmond ousted sitting MSP Nora Radcliffe in neighbouring Gordon and looks set to become Scotland’s First Minister.

Other members elected to represent the Banff and District Ward at the local elections were John Cox, Independent and Jack Mair, Scottish Liberal Democrats.

The Troup Ward also saw John Duncan, Scottish Conservative and Unionist, and Sydney Mair, Independent, elected.

There was a 51.2% turnout in the Banff Ward and a 50.58% turnout in the Troup Ward.

The new local members are predicting that they can represent the new multi-member wards well together.

In the constituency election Stevenson polled 16,031 – well ahead of his nearest rival, Tory Geordie Burnett Stuart with 5,501.

Kay Barnett (Labour) gained 3,136 votes and Alison McInnes (Lib Dem) polled 2,617. The turnout was 48.4%.

Mr Stevenson was delighted with the result. He said: “I’m feeling very pleased to have the opportunity to work for the people of Banff and Buchan for another four years. The majority in Banff and Buchan is the biggest in Scotland and that’s a vote of confidence in the programme that Alex Salmond has put forward on behalf of the SNP. We look forward to forming a government and being able to deliver what people want. I’m confident that the new First Minister will be Alex Salmond.”

However he was disappointed that some votes were not counted. He added: “My first and substantial disappointment was with the late delivery of postal votes. I know that this cost many people in Banff and Buchan their opportunity to vote and I want to understand very clearly why that happened and how we prevent that in the future.

“The spoiled papers in Banff and Buchan appear to be substantially lower than in many other places. I think it’s important to find out why some places had higher numbers and some places were lower. It’s clear there was something badly wrong and we need an independent inquiry.”

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