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Breaking: The Liberal Democrats' Colin Aitken is elected to represent the Inverness West ward after former Highland Councillor Graham Ross stood down

By Scott Maclennan

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Newly elected Lib Dem Highland Councillor Colin Aitken.
Newly elected Lib Dem Highland Councillor Colin Aitken.

Colin Aitken of the Liberal Democrats has been elected to represent the Inverness West ward at Highland Council after yesterday’s by-election.

He will replace the former deputy provost of Inverness Cllr Graham Ross who stood down earlier this year for personal reasons.

The turnout for the election was 25.3 per cent out of a total electorate 8485 meaning 2149 ballot papers were verified.

Mr Aitken got a total of 678 first preference votes and was elected at the seventh round.

The SNP's Kate Maclean got 718 first preference votes – not enough to win outright.

The process then moves on to second, third and fourth preferences until there is a winner with candidates eliminated at each round.

The Conservatives Max Bannerman got 293 in the first round, Independent Duncan McDonald got 230 while the Greens' Ryan Mackintosh polled 159.

The Independence for Scotland Party's Iain Forsyth for 42 first preference votes and Calum Liptrot of the Scottish Libertarian Party got 11.

The announcement of the win was badly botched by the council after many were encouraged to keep abreast of the count online.

There was no audio of returning officer and council chief executive Donna Manson making the announcement nor of Mr Aitken's acceptance speech.

Taken with the victory of Jill Tilt in Wick and East Caithness, the win brings the number of Liberal Democrats in the council to 11.

That means the number of administration councillors has been bolstered by two.

The election of the two councillors was welcomed by Lib Dem far north MP Jamie Stone who congratulated them both on their by-election victories.

He said: “Both Jill and Colin are to be congratulated for two splendid results. I have no doubt that they will make a very significant contribution to public representation and will be exceptionally strong voices for their communities on the Highland Council.

“On a wider note, these results are clear indicators of the beginning of a sea change in Scottish politics. Liberalism is alive and well.”

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