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Buckie council ward candidates give their reaction to shock election result


By Alan Beresford

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THE three candidates returned unopposed to the Buckie ward on Moray Council have been speaking of their shock at a result which took just about everyone by surprise.

The Buckie ward in Moray Council has been returned uncontested.
The Buckie ward in Moray Council has been returned uncontested.

When nominations closed for the 26 seats up for grabs in the local authority at the May 5 poll closed at 4pm on Wednesday, March 30 it became clear that only three candidates had put their names forward for the three seats available in Buckie, meaning they were returned as ward elected members unopposed.

There are two new faces on the team representing Buckie and Findochty – Neil McLennan (Scottish Conservative) and Christopher Price (Scottish Liberal Democrats) – and they will join sitting SNP councillor Sonya Warren in representing Buckie and Findochty.

Stepping down in May will be Councillors (Gordon Cowie (Independent) and Tim Eagle (Conservative). Councillor Eagle is currently the Tory group leader on Moray Council.

There has not been an uncontested ward in Moray since the introduction of multi-member wards. The last time was in 2003 under the First Past the Post (FPTP) system, when there were 26 wards.

SNP candidate and sitting Buckie councillor Sonya Warren. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
SNP candidate and sitting Buckie councillor Sonya Warren. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Councillor Warren, who was first elected in a by-election in 2015 and held her seat in the 2017 poll, said: "I think it's fair to say that the ward being returned uncontested is a huge surprise to everyone involved.

"It's not something I ever expected to see.

"However, I'm looking forward to again serving the people of Buckie, Findochty and surrounding communities to the best of my abilities over the coming term and also to working with my new ward colleagues.

"It's been an honour and privilege to serve my constituents and also to be part of the SNP council administration over the past few years which has done so much to help the people of Moray in many ways."

Mr McLennan has held numerous roles in public sector improvement, such as a National Development Officer at Learning and Teaching Scotland and as a Quality Improvement Officer at Aberdeen City Council. Mr McLennan also reviews many publications and was a Scotsman200 writer, receiving a Royal Society of Edinburgh Medal “for his outstanding contribution to civic society, creativity and social enterprise, education and the social sciences.”

At the moment he teaches public service leadership, researches History and History Education and is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen. He was also a director of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership.

He spoke of his determination to serve his constituents and support good governance.

Conservative candidate Neil McLennan will take over from party colleague Councillor Tim Eagle after the May 5.
Conservative candidate Neil McLennan will take over from party colleague Councillor Tim Eagle after the May 5.

“I don’t think there will be many elections as straight forward as this," he continued.

"I decided to stand this year as my frustration grew with SNP mis-management of local and national matters. Also I have seen some disgraceful governance issues recently and a significant lack of accountability in some public services. I want to both represent the good folk of Buckie ward well and support good governance in public life.

"It is an honour to serve the magnificent and proud areas of Buckie and Findochty in this role.”

Mr Price, who works for the MOD at RAF Lossiemouth and has worked in customer service roles at Bank of Scotland and Specsavers, was also left taken aback by the fact the ward was uncontested.

Chris Price (Scottish Liberal Democrats) has been elected to serve as one of the councillor for the Buckie ward.
Chris Price (Scottish Liberal Democrats) has been elected to serve as one of the councillor for the Buckie ward.

He said: "It was a big surprise when Sandy Leslie [Liberal Democrat election agent] called to say I'd been elected unopposed.

"It was a shock but I'm embracing it and I'm ready for the challenges.

"I've lived locally for many years, talked to a lot of people and listened to their views and concerns. I've worked in customer services and been able to help a lot of people and that's something I want to keep doing as a councillor.

"My main priorities are transport links and public services as well as supporting local businesses. I previously worked with the Bank of Scotland so the issue of branch closures and how it affects communities like Buckie is something I'm keen to offer support on.

"Over the next five years I hope to make the people of Buckie proud."

Due to the ward being uncontested, voters in Buckie will not be asked to cast their ballot nor will postal ballot papers be sent out.

The result will be formally declared along with the other returns at the count on May 6.

A total of 42 candidates are standing for 26 seats in the election.

In the Keith-Cullen ward, where three seats are being contested, a total of five candidates have cast their hats into the ring. They are: William Keith Barclay (Scottish Family Party: Pro-Family, Pro-Marriage, Pro-Life); Tracy Colyer (Scottish Conservative); Theresa Coull (SNP); Donald Gatt (Scottish Conservative); Leslie Tarr (Scottish Liberal Democrats).

To the west of the Buckie ward, in Fochabers-Lhanbryde, three seats are also up for grabs. Contesting these are: Dave Bremner (SNP); Donald John Craig Cameron (Scottish Liberal Democrats); Marc Macrae (Scottish Conservative); Shona Morrison (SNP); Ben Williams (Scottish Labour Party).

The full list of candidates and their agents for the eight Moray Council wards being contested, as well as the polling places in each ward, can be found at www.moray.gov.uk/elections


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