BY-ELECTION winner Roy Glen returned to Renfrewshire Council yesterday ... and admitted that things have changed dramatically since he last served as an elected member four years ago.
Mr Glen won the Paisley South seat for Labour in the early hours of the morning and takes over from SNP stalwart Jim Mitchell, whose death in January triggered the by-election.
He spent yesterday afternoon settling in at Renfrewshire Council’s new headquarters in Cotton Street, Paisley, which are dramatically different from the draughty old offices occupied by the local authority when he spent eight years serving as the elected member for the Saucel and Hunterhill ward.
Mr Glen, 61, now hopes Renfrewshire Council will veer politically back in the direction that it took when he was formerly a councillor.
He told the Paisley Daily Express: “Renfrewshire House wasn’t open the last time I was in office, so I need to familiarise myself with the place.
“Looking forward, the Labour group is having a meeting on Monday and we will decide on our plans then.
“The Lib Dem vote has collapsed and the people have spoken. The SNP and the Lib Dems need to take note of that.”
There were cheers from Labour supporters at the Lagoon leisure centre in the early hours of yesterday morning as Mr Glen was declared the by-election winner after the third stage of counting.
The community learning officer, who lives in Paisley with his 58-year-old wife Winnie, polled a total of 2,121 votes – giving him a majority of 717 over nearest challenger David McCartney, of the SNP.
Allison Cook took third place for the Conservatives with 441 votes, while Independent candidate Gary Pearson was in fourth place with 198 votes.
Lib Dem candidate Ross Stalker was knocked out at the second stage of the count after gaining just 139 votes, while Jimmy Kerr, of the Scottish Socialist Party, fell at the first hurdle after gathering 82 votes.
The turnout was 30.4 per cent, with a total of 31 invalid or rejected votes identified.
Mr Glen now joins three other councillors – Labour’s Eddie Devine, SNP man George Adam and Marie McGurk, of the Lib Dems – in the multi-member Paisley South ward.
And he said the by-election result sets the scene for next year’s council elections.
Mr Glen, who served as a councillor for Saucel and Hunterhill between 1999 and 2007 before losing his seat, added: “The voters of Paisley South have delivered their verdict on the SNP/Lib Dem attack on the weak and vulnerable.
“As far as Paisley South is concerned, my fellow Labour councillor for the ward, Eddie Devine, and I will make a formidable team and ensure that the views of the electorate are properly represented in the council.
“I am pleased to be back at Renfrewshire Council and look forward to representing the people of Paisley South.”
The by-election result means that Labour now boasts 18 councillors in Renfrewshire but the SNP/Lib Dem administration, which has a combined total of 20 councillors, remains in control.
Councillor Iain McMillan, Leader of Renfrewshire’s Labour group, said the SNP now has “no moral authority” to run the council.
He added: “They only have 16 councillors, we have 18. I would ask them to think seriously about their position after this by-election result.
“Their coalition is shattered as the Lib Dems only received 130-odd votes.”
However, Renfrewshire Council Leader Derek Mackay, who represents the SNP, played down his party’s by-election defeat.
He said: “The SNP/Lib Dem administration still has 20 seats in the council.
“We sadly miss Jim Mitchell but we retain our position in the administration and will carry on delivering for the people of Paisley and Renfrewshire.
“Roy Glen’s first job will be to decide which faction of the Labour group he will sit on.”