ELECTION ANALYSIS: Tough talks ahead to decide who leads Fife Council

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Fife Council’s new administration may take a few days to thrash out.

THE battle to run Fife Council is underway - and a lot of hard bargaining lies ahead for the leading political players.

Labour finished Friday’s count with most councillors but short of an overall majority.

The party won 35 seats and 44 per cent of the vote, but the SNP-Lib Dem coalition claimed a combined 36.

Now the negotiating to see who leads the Council begins and may not be concluded until the middle of the week.

Alex Rowley, Labour leader, set his stall out as the count wound down.

He said: ‘‘We are by far the biggest party. It is my view that we have a legitimate mandate to govern Fife Council.

‘‘We will be looking at how we move forward to achieve that objective in the next few days,’’

The small rump of Tories and independent councillors could hold the blance of power, but Labour clearly see a road back to power after five years in opposition.

They won extra seats in a number of wards as the Lib Dem vote all but collapsed in Kirkcaldy, Central Fife and Levenmouth - and there was also a first ever success for Labour in St Andrews, not a town noted for flying the red flag!

Peter Grant, SNP Council leader, who was elected at stage eight of the process after trailing seat winner Betty Campbell by almost 500 votes, sensed the political mood was changing, stating:‘We take a great deal of pride in what we have achieved. Whoever runs it for the next five years will find Fife Council is an infinitely better place than it was five years ago.’’

Most of the big players in local politics who stood again got across the finishing line.

Tony Martin and Brian Goodall prevaild in Dunfermline, George Kay succeeded in Burntisland albeit in second place to Labour newcomer Peter George, and Andrew Rodger again triumpd under the independent banner.

But the Lib Dems’ collapse contained casualties, and some candidates failed to poll into three-figures - in Buckhaven, Lois Lothian got just 21 votes.

The biggest defeat came in Kirkcaldy where Alice Soper, chairman of the Area Committee, saw her vote slump to 423 - 50 per cent less than the third placed Kenny Selbie, one of Labour’s successful newcomers. She was visibly upset at the result the hall almost immediately.

In west Fife, Jim Leishman romped to victory for LAbour, and the former Dunfermline Athletic manager will now begin a new career in local politics,