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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Fife leader rejects 'McLeish' factor
Ballot box
Nearly 1,300 votes were cast
The leader of Fife Council has denied that the Henry McLeish controversy was the reason behind Labour losing overall control of the authority.

The council is evenly split after an independent candidate, William Ferguson, won a by-election in the Kincardine, Culross and Low Valleyfield ward.

The council leader, Christine May, admitted Labour locally had a lot of work to do in the run-up to the Scottish parliamentary elections next May.

Mr McLeish, who resigned as first minister amid a row over office expenses, does not plan to seek re-election to the parliament's Central Fife seat.

Results
William Ferguson (Ind.) 710
Hugh Lambie (Lab) 271
Ian Chisholm (SNP) 244
Gordon Campbell (Lib Dem) 35
Dennis Halligan (Con.) 29

The by-election defeat was the third for Labour in Fife this year.

Ms May told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "There was obviously a very strong local candidate, even though our candidate was strong too.

"There were particular local issues which decided the outcome, but we need to consider other messages that we received from local people."

'Not an issue'

The former first minister saga had not played a part in the by-election defeat, she said.

"From the people I spoke to, it (the McLeish affair) was not an issue, it was the local issues."

The council leader said she was determined to administer by "consensus" in the interests of all residents.

Fife Council logo

Labour has held overall control in modern local government history since re-organisation in 1995.

The seat became vacant when Labour councillor Barbara Stocks died in August.

Mr Ferguson received 55% of the votes.

Of the 78 seats on the council, half are Labour, 21 are Liberal Democrats, the SNP has 11, three are Tories and two are independents.

The others are held by the Democratic Left Party and the Communist Party.

See also:

05 Sep 02 | Scotland
08 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
06 Nov 01 | Scotland
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