Good hustings, disappointing turnout

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ELLON’S residents had the chance to grill candidates for Aberdeenshire Council last week, in a specially organised hustings at the Victoria Hall.

Candidates Sandy Allan (Independent), Isobel Davidson (Liberal Democrat), Rob Merson (SNP), Richard Thomson (SNP) and Peter Smyth (Labour) answered questions from potential constituents about their policies and ambitions for Ellon and District.

Chairman for the evening, Mark Grant, read out a statement from Conservative representative Gillian Owen on her own principles and ambitions, after she was unable to attend due to prior commitments.

Speaking to the Times after the event, Mr Grant said that although the evening had been an enlightening one, there was disappointment that only around thirty people had turned out.

“To be honest, the turnout was a bit disappointing, but what can you do?” he told the Times. “There’s a general apathy, it seems. The event was pretty well publicised.

“Other than that, though, there were lots of good questions from the audience, and the candidates did a good job answering them. There were even a few direct hits on the sitting candidates, though no overall ‘winner’.”

The country goes to the polls on May 3 to decide who will control Scotland’s local authorities for the next four years. Aberdeenshire is currently governed by a Lib-Dem/Conservative coalition. Last month, the Times reported that Cllr Debra Storr would be standing down, leaving one seat potentially open to a new challenger.

Thus far, the election campaign in Ellon has been comparatively low-key, however First Minister Alex Salmond paid a visit to the town on Thursday to drum up support for candidates Richard Thomson and Rob Merson. The nationalists are standing two candidates in the hope of a good SNP turnout, which could see the party holding two of the town’s four seats.

Speaking to the Times, Mr Salmond said: “We have a hard-working team on Aberdeenshire Council, and we will be taking nothing for granted. We have excellent candidates in Ellon, and will be campaigning for every vote.”