COUNCIL ELECTIONS: TORY DANCE TEACHER WALTZES HER WAY TO ELECTION VICTORY

Conservative candidate Gemma Penfold has been elected as a councillor for Helensburgh and Lomond South

By Lucy Ashton

Dance teacher Gemma Penfold has waltzed her way to victory in Helensburgh and Lomond South for a seat on Argyll and Bute Council.

Conservative candidate Gemma Penfold got more than twice the votes of the SNP, which was to be expected in an area where so many people are employed at the Ministry of Defence nuclear weapons base at Faslane and Coulport and where pople traditionally vote Tory.

Ms Penfold’s victory was announced by the Argyll and Bute authority on Twitter shortly before 1pm on Friday. She  secured 1,206 first preference votes –  more than half the total, and more than twice as many as the SNP candidate, Math Campbell-Sturgess, who lives on the Rosneath Peninsula.

Six candidates contested the by-election, which was called after the death of long-serving Liberal Democrat councillor Ellen Morton, pictured right,  in October.

The result means that the ward will have two Conservative councillors until at least next year’s full council election. Provost David Kinniburgh already represents the ward along with SNP councillor Richard Trail, a well known Helensburgh name whom pundits expected to do better.

During campaigning, Ms Penfold had set out mental health as a key priority, and had welcomed a new service to support military veterans at the Vale of Leven Hospital, which has been backed by the local Tory List MSP Maurice Corry.

She said during the campaign: “I am proud to live in this ward with my family and want to make a difference on the council by being a strong voice for these communities.

“As a local business owner, I have been acutely aware of the challenges that have been faced with lockdown restrictions and we need to see a greater sense of urgency from the SNP Government to get vital funding to businesses who need it most.

“The UK Government have put measures in place to support businesses like mine and we need to see the SNP do the same for businesses in this area.

“I believe the lockdown has also brought issues surrounding mental health to the fore, particularly among our young people and we need to invest more in getting those who require it the support they need.

Helensburgh, where dance teacher Gemma Penfold won for the Conservatives.

“It is also a vote for a strong voice on the council to help our communities build back better after the pandemic.”

Argyll & Bute Council

First Preference Report
This report details the electorate, the turnout, the quota and the number of first preference votes for each candidate.  Henry BOSWELL, LibDems, 333; Paul BURROWS, Workers Party, 23;  Math CAMPBELL-STURGESS, 562, SNP; Mike CROWE, 123, Greens, and  Jane Bruce KELLY, 133, Scottish Labour. The turnout for the by-election in Helensburgh and Lomond South was 41.8 per cent.

A by-election was also held in the council’s Isle of Bute ward on Thursday, and saw Independent candidate Liz McCabe elected at the fifth round of counting in a close five-way contest.

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