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Party politics dominate as SNP wins more seats than the Independents at Highland Council for the first time

How are Highland's election candidates feeling on polling day?
How are Highland's election candidates feeling on polling day?

The SNP has taken the highest number of seats in the Highlands at today’s election count.

The SNP won every seat they contested, finishing with a total of 22.

Of these, 11 are newly-elected councillors.

This equals their 2017 election tally of 22 councillors.

It was also a good day for the Green party, who returned four councillors: Chris Ballance in Aird and Loch Ness, Andrew Baldrey in Caol and Mallaig, Kate Willis in Fort William and Ardersier and Ryan Mackintosh in Inverness West.

Their previous Green candidate Pippa Hadley lost her seat in Badenoch and Strathspey.

Independents losing out

Independent candidates dropped seven seats this year, as they struggled to make a dent in Inverness wards.

A total of 21 seats went to independents, falling one short of the SNP’s result.

Independent Councillor Bill Lobban of Badenoch and Strathspey was re-elected. Picture: Sandy McCook.

In 2017, they managed 28, allowing them to form a coalition administration with the Liberal Democrats and Labour.

The Liberal Democrats increased their presence in the chamber, winning 15 seats, compared with 10 in 2017.

There were small gains for the Conservatives too, who managed 10 seats.

<br />Ryan MacKintosh is one of four new Green councillors elected today. Picture: Sandy McCook

Labour dropped down from three seats to two, with experienced councillor Bet McAllister holding the Inverness ward she has represented for 15 years.

Labour candidate Andrew Mackintosh was newly-elected to Inverness Ness-side to take their tally to two.

In Inverness itself, party politics seemed to win the day.

Only Duncan Macpherson, an incumbent independent candidate, was able to hold his seat.

The SNP took six places across the five city wards, while the Liberal Democrats secured four.

Political gambles

It was a mixed bag of new blood and safe hands, with roughly half of councillors coming in new.

Some of the more noteworthy results include a political gamble paid off for the Conservatives: Andrew Sinclair and Andrew Jarvie swapped seats, with Mr Sinclair running in Inverness South and Mr Jarvie in Wick and East Caithness.

Both were successfully elected in their new wards.

Councillor Andrew jarvie with his mother Barbara were both elected to Highland Council. Picture: Sandy McCook

At the same time, Mr Jarvie’s mother, Barbara Babs Jarvie was elected to represent Nairn and Cawdor, in what is thought to be the first mother-son combo for Highland Council.

Alba Party empty handed

Small political groups were in for disappointment. The Alba Party, Scottish Libertarians, Scottish Family Party, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Freedom Party all went home with nothing.

<br />Councillor Raymond Bremner, Leader of the SNP group. Picture: Sandy McCook

It will be left to the SNP and the Independent  group to scramble to secure a coalition deal.

Last political term saw the Independent-led coalition win votes on a knife edge.

However, in the latter half of the term they agreed a collaborative budget approach with the SNP – a strategy that was roundly opposed by the Conservative group.

With a roads headache, numerous new schools to finance and the small matter of a cost of living crisis, the new administration will need to get to work quickly.

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