LETTER: Electorate likes independents

The election is over, the votes counted and a new administration is in place. Please allow me, firstly, to thank the public for turning out in numbers to vote in Dee ward, and, secondly, to commend all candidates for a good-natured campaign.

Where independent, non-party-aligned candidates stand and provide voters with a wide choice, it is noticeable that voter interest is greater and turnout tends to be higher than in other wards. In Dee ward, the electorate chose two independent candidates and one party person, from a list containing three independents and five with party labels.

In general, voters are beginning to use the proportional system to its full effect. This election saw more voters ranking more candidates on the papers. They therefore had a greater influence on the final outcome.

More voters voted until they really had no preference between the candidates, and fewer votes were, therefore, “wasted” in the sense that they were not used.

That is good, healthy democracy. It means that the result in this election is more reflective of the electorate’s overall preferences.

Turning to the specifics, the electorate returned seven councillors who stood as independent, non-party-aligned members. In 2007, the equivalent number was two. This is a significant increase. As an independent, I promise to work hard for all individuals who seek my help, and to promote the best interests of the ward through collaboration with my two fellow Dee councillors. The groundwork for this was set during the last council when Tommy Jacques was a ward member and I pay tribute to his unfailing courtesy as a colleague.

Finally, independent councillors do not form any part of the current (Conservative and SNP) administration, but the public can be sure that we shall all be asking the difficult questions, completely free of party dogma, and tackling the problems our region faces in a robust but constructive manner.

Councillor Jane Maitland,

Independent group leader,

Kirkland of Rerrick,

Dundrennan, Kirkcudbright.