And they’re off! Your guide to who’s who in the 2012 Council elections...

Will Fife's political map change after May 3?
Will Fife's political map change after May 3?

IT’S been a long time since a council election took centre stage.

Recent polling days have been shared with Scottish Parliamentary elections, but this year the issues under debate are entirely local - and it promises to be an intriguing contest.

Many candidates have been canvassing since early February, but the race really started this week with the deadline passing for all who wanted to stand.

And locally what a diverse bunch we’ve got!

As well as the four main political parties there are candidates standing for UKIP - more often seen on the national stage - and the Pensioners’ Party, and we’ve even got a Monster Raving Loony presence which certainly should liven things up in Burntisland!

The six local wards pitch sitting councillors against newcomers, and with at least three seats are up for grabs in each area the head to head battles could be fascinating.

The overall prize on offer is control of Fife Council, but for many people locally, it’s also about what their councillor does for their area. Track records and pledges of better days will both be subject to close scrutiny.

In many ways the 2012 vote could be the most open yet.

The days when they weighed rather than counted Labour’s votes round here are probably over for good - the system and the voters have both changed - and last year’s Scottish Parliamentary election outcome showed that nothing can be taken for granted anymore.

There’s a fascinating contest brewing in Burtisland, Kinghorn and western Kirkcaldy where there are more candidates and more parties than in any other.

Nine hopefuls are chasing just three seats, so the casualty rate will be high.

All the major players are lined up, and while rumours of independent candidates standing came to nothing, the ward also has candidates from UKIP - more often associated with general elections - the Pensioners’ Party and the Monster Raving Loony Party. Dull it certainly won’t be.

Sitting councillors George Kay and Susan Leslie are in the pack, but so too are Peter Adams, a veteran campaigner with UKIP, and community activist Sally Walsh.

The long-running debate over Toll Park as the site for a new school has split opinion in the town. Could it be an election issue too?

In Kirkcaldy Central there are six runners and three places on offer.

Local issues will again feature - what price a backlash against the ban on Blue Badge holders getting access to the pedestrianised zone? And will the Tolbooth Street swimming pool still be an issue?

There are seven candidates apiece in Kirkcaldy North and East, and five in Lochgelly - key seats which the parties need to win to move closer to gaining overall control.

It’s too early to predict an outcome, but the debates which lie ahead could be fun!

Ward by Ward guide:

Ward 6: Inverkeithing & Dalgety Bay

Mike Arthur (UKIP)

Dave Dempsey (Conservative)

Lesley Laird (Labour)

Alice McGarry (SNP)

Helen Todd (SNP)

David Walker (Lib Dem)

Gavin Yates (Labour)

Ward 9: Lochgelly & Cardenden

Ian Chisholm (SNP)

Mark Hood (Labour)

Andrew Lonie (SNP)

James Reekie (Conservative)

Linda Erskine (Labour)

Ward 10: Burntisland, Kinghorn & Western Kirkcaldy

Peter Adams (UKIP)

Susan Leslie (Lib Dem)

Sally Walsh (SNP)

George Kay (SNP)

Norman Morrison (Conservative)

Anne Whyte (All Scotland Pensioners Party)

Peter George (Labour)

Richard Perry (Labour)

Lord Louche Lancaster (Monster Raving Loony Party)

Ward 11: Kirkcaldy North

Neil Crooks (Labour)

Randall Foggie (SNP)

Mark Hamid (Conservative)

Janette Hamilton (All Scotland Pensioners Party)

Carol Lindsay (SNP)

John Mainland (Lib Dem)

David Ross (Labour)

Ward 12: Kirkcaldy Central

Judy Hamilton (Labour)

Dorothy Ross (Conservative)

Alice Soper (Lib Dem)

Stuart McPhail (SNP)

Kenny Selbie (Labour)

Iain Wallace (SNP)

Ward 13: Kirkcaldy East

Lawrence Brown (Labour)

Kay Carrington (Labour)

Mike Parker (All Scotland Pensioners Party)

Edgar Cook (Conservative)

Callum Leslie (Lib Dem)

Arthur Morrison (SNP)

Frank Wallace (SNP)