LABOUR remain in control of North Lanarkshire Council following last week’s election as while the SNP made some gains, they fell well short of challenging the status quo.
In the Times & Speaker circulation area four councillors lost their seats as a number of new faces were welcomed into the chamber.
The biggest change came in Mossend and Holytown as two of the three seats changed hands as former Labour councillor Kevin McKeown, standing as an independent, and the SNP’s Paul Delaney lost out.
Jimmy Coyle remains a councillor in the ward and will be joined by Labour colleague Frank McNally and David Baird of the SNP.
Councillor Baird said: “It’s a bittersweet victory taking the place of a colleague, it’s one of those results where you would prefer to take two seats, but it’s in the hands of the electorate and we have to accept what they voted for.”
Councillor McNally added: “Jimmy and myself got ahead quite early on and managed to hold it. We ran a good campaign, I started chapping doors as early as February, and I’m proud of everyone who contributed to it, but now the hard work begins.”
The first result of the day was Motherwell West where Labour’s Michael Ross and Paul Kelly were joined by SNP’s Annette Valentine in all being returned.
Councillor Valentine said: “I’m really delighted the people of Motherwell West voted for me again and I’ll try my best for them.”
Councillor Ross lost out on the popular Labour vote to Councillor Kelly, but was happy with the support he received.
He said: “I’d like to thank everyone who came out to help me for the tremendous show of support I’ve had. I got just under 900 first preference votes, which is on a par with what I got under the old system, so I’m delighted.”
In Motherwell North, Labour councillors Helen McKenna, Annita McAuley and Peter Nolan all kept their seats, but the SNP’s Gordon Stewart lost out to colleague Shahid Farooq.
Councillor Farooq said: “I am very happy, we put a lot of hard work into the campaign. Both myself and Gordon Stewart worked hard and I’m not quite sure what happened there, but I can’t wait to get started and start finding out from the people what their problems are.”
Councillor McKenna added: I’m absolutely delighted to be back and continue the great work North Lanarkshire Council has been doing for the past five years, indeed to have all three Labour candidates returned is a tribute to that work.”
In Thorniewood the status quo remained as Labour’s Bob Burrows and Jim McCabe and Duncan McShannon of the SNP all comfortably held their seats.
There was drama in the Bellshill ward as a heavily pregnant Marina Lyle had to rush back from Wishaw General Hospital to be confirmed as taking over her father Richard’s former seat.
Councillor Lyle is due to give birth next week and is ready to juggle motherhood with politics.
She said: “In exactly the same way I was brought up, so my baby will be brought up, surrounded by politics.
“I have a very supportive husband and family, and will have loads of people around to help and look forward to the challenge.
“I’ll be stepping straight into it and I’m ready to help the people of Bellshill. I can’t thank them enough for trusting me to be their councillor.”
Her dad, now a Central Scotland list MSP, said: “I was very hopeful people who supported me in Bellshill would support my daughter.
“She is well equipped to be a councillor and will do the people of Bellshill and Orbiston proud.
“This isn’t a dynasty, Marina is her own woman, indeed the first female councillor in Bellshill for over 20 years, and she will do the work.”
In the same ward, Labour’s Harry McGuigan and Harry Curran were both re-elected.
In Murdostoun Alan Clinch retained long-standing councillor Jimmy Martin’s old seat for Labour while colleague Nicky Shevlin, the SNP’s John Taggart and independent Robert McKendrick were all returned.
Councillor Clinch said: “There is a strong Labour vote and I was a bit concerned as to whether it would transfer to me, but looking at the result it clearly did and now I can’t wait to get started as I have some big shoes to fill.”
In Wishaw, Labour lost a seat as their 3-1 majority in the ward became a 2-2 split with the SNP.
Sam Love and Frank McKay were both returned for Labour, but they lost Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland’s seat vacated by his election to the Scottish Parliament.
The SNP’s Clare Adamson also decided not to stand after becoming an MSP, so two seats were up for grabs, and were taken by her colleagues Marion Fellows and Jim Hume.
Councillor Fellows said: “I am so grateful to the people of Wishaw for electing myself and Jim because it’s a change and means there is a shift in the balance of power.”
Councillor Hume added: “We need to work with the two Labour councillors to ensure that things work well for Wishaw.”
North Lanarkshire’s only Conservative councillor, Linsey McKay, lost her seat in Motherwell South East and Ravenscraig as Labour’s Gary O’Rorke reversed the shock result of five years ago to be the third Labour member for the ward, joining colleagues Kaye Harmon and Tommy Lunny as well as the SNP’s Alan Valentine.
Councillor O’Rorke said: “Since January I have been going out chapping doors and it isn’t so much about me as the people who have put faith in me to represent them and over the coming months and years I will repay that faith.”
In total Labour had 41 councillors elected, an increase of one from 2007 leaving Thorniewood councillor and council leader Jim McCabe very satisfied.
He said: “I’m delighted, but I know for a fact the amount of work the candidates all put in.
“I believe the SNP ran a dirty campaign, the worst I have ever been involved in, but the people saw through that and we now have a job to do.
“It would be a lie to say I was totally confident of winning 41 seats so our record has prevailed.”
The SNP actually gained five seats with 26 representatives but leader David Stocks says they need to reassess their campaign.
He said: “I’m delighted we gained some seats, but disappointed overall and will sit down and look at where our strategy went wrong and take it from there.”