THE SNP was the big winner in north east Fife’s local elections, gaining four extra councillors when residents went to the polls last Thursday.
But Labour provided the biggest shock, sensationally winning its first ever seat in St Andrews to add to its success elsewhere in the Kingdom.
The Liberal Democrats remain north east Fife’s biggest party but lost three seats to bring their total down to seven out of 16.
Independent councillor Bryan Poole comfortably retained his seat in Cupar, but the area’s sole UKIP representative, Mike Scott-Hayward, was ousted from East Neuk and Landward.
The Conservatives were down one seat across north east Fife’s five wards compared with the 2007 elections.
SNP councillor David MacDiarmid, who was re-elected in the Howe of Fife and Tay Coast ward, hailed a “great return” for his party locally.
He said: “Five out of six SNP candidates were elected in north east Fife, which is a great return.
“In 2007 I became the area’s first SNP councillor, which possibly opened the door slightly for the party in north east Fife. Now the door is wide open.”
Councillor MacDiarmid went on: “From a personal point of view I’m absolutely delighted that the people of Howe of Fife and Tay Coast have put their trust in me.
“I’d like to think it’s due to my dedication and hard work over the last five years.
“But I’m disappointed that my SNP running mate, Colin Reid, didn’t get in because he was a fantastic candidate.”
Turnout in most of the north east Fife wards stood at over 40 per cent.
That compared favourably with national figures but was still considered low, even for a standalone council election.
In Cupar, Liberal Democrat Margaret Kennedy retained her seat but saw party colleagues elsewhere lose theirs against a national backdrop of SNP and Labour gains.
She said she was not surprised UK-wide feeling had affected her party locally, but added: “The Fife Lib Dems, and particularly the north east Fife ones, bucked the trend nationally and I feel that may be down to our local connections and ways of working.
“Non-party affiliated people will always point to party candidates as being unable to put their local area first, but I believe that us being returned reinforces the relationship we have with the local people we have served over the years.
“On a personal note, I have always fought the corner of my constituents within the party and will continue to do so.
“However, when matters are looked at from a Fife-wide perspective, every area must be taken into account and that is where those who make the decisions will always be viewed cynically.”
Speaking about her own re-election, Councillor Kennedy said: “I’m honoured to have been given another crack at the whip in Cupar.
“It’s a relief to know that the hard work I’ve put into the ward has given a positive return.
“I’m very disappointed for [Conservative] Roger Guy, who wasn’t re-elected, because the three of us had worked well together in Cupar over the last five years.
“Every councillor works hard for the community regardless of political persuasion and I hope that will continue.”
Independent Bryan Poole added: “I’m chuffed and surprised to have polled the most votes in Cupar.
“It’s really nice that people have got that kind of faith in me.
“I’ll continue to be honest and work hard for the local community.
“On a personal basis I’m sorry for Roger Guy because he was a good councillor for the area.”
Karen Marjoram, who was elected in Cupar for the SNP, said: “It’s the most peculiar feeling to go through this process.
“The hard work has paid off and I couldn’t have done it without all the people who helped me.
“Roger Guy has been a really good councillor, and for the next five years I’ll be doing my best for the people who have chosen to elect me.”
In Tay Bridgehead, re-elected councillor Tim Brett was being tipped to take over the Lib Dem group leadership from East Neuk colleague Elizabeth Riches, who has stepped down from the role.
Elections for the position were due to take place towards the end of this week, after the Fife Herald went to press.