Final week of campaigning before Kirkcaldy East by-election

Voters go to the poll next week.
Voters go to the poll next week.

The Kirkcaldy seat left vacant by “invisible councillor” Arthur Morrison is about to be filled as voters in Kirkcaldy East go to the polls.

And despite the timing of the by-election, straight after the festive holidays, there still seems to be a bit of interest in politics left over from the independence referendum.

Eight candidates are in the running for the chance to represent Ward 13. All the major parties are represented, alongside several independents.

The seat became vacant following the resignation of Councillor Morrison in November, after he was criticised for failing to serve the public properly in his ward due to work commitments in Austria.

There are a few familiar faces among those bidding for election.

They include Liz Easton, general secretary of Kirkcaldy YMCA, who is standing for LAbour, and Marie Penman, one of the leading lights in the ‘Yes’ campaign during the referendum, who is flying the flag for the SNP.

Callum Leslie, son of current councillor Susan, and UKIP’s Peter Adams, and Edgar Cook for the Tories, have all stood at a range of local elections in recent years.

New faces include Claire Reid from the Ecology Centre in Kinghorn, for the Green Party, while there are two independent candidates – Alistair McIntyre from Rosyth and Ronald Hunter from Methil.

While there are eight names on the ballot paper, it’s widely tipped to be a straight fight between Labour and SNP.

Despite this, all candidates have been busy drumming up support by delivering leaflets, taking part in debates and introducing themselves around the streets in the ward, with some writing on-line blogs and uploading videos. Polling cards have been sent out, and postal voting packs were delivered this week ahead of the poll on Thursday, January 22.

Polling stations will be open from 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. next Thursday and, in a first for Fife, some schools being used will remain open to staff and pupils as normal.

Linda Bissett, depute returning officer, explained: “Over the past few years, we’ve made significant efforts to reduce the number of schools we use. We’ve also had a lot of feedback from parents saying they would like schools to stay open on polling day.

‘‘Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Polling stations have to be accessible, of a suitable size and conveniently located for the voters in the area and, in some areas, we just don’t have any suitable alternative venues.

“However, I’m pleased to say that, for the Kirkcaldy East by-election, out of the four schools and nursery we’re using, only one, Gallatown nursery, will close.

“The others – Pathhead, Sinclairtown and Dysart primary schools – will be open as usual, allowing almost 800 pupils to be in school that day.

“You may have to use a different door to get in to your polling station but there will be plenty of signs to show you where to go.”

Kylie Walsh, headteacher at Pathhead Primary School, said: “We’re delighted that our school will be open as normal.

“It’s great news for pupils and parents – pupils won’t miss any classes and parents won’t have to worry about finding alternative childcare for the day.

“It also means any pupils entitled to a free school meal will still get their lunch.”

The eight candidates are:

Peter Adams - UKIP

Edgar Cook - Scottish Conservative

Liz Easton - Labour

Ron Hunter - Independent

Callum Leslie - Liberal Democrat

Alastair Macintyre - Independent

Marie Penman - SNP

Claire Reid - Green Party