Council by election for the 26th January 2017

Link to >>> Council election results May 2016 - April 2017

East Ayrshire UA
Kilmarnock East and Hurlford

Scottish National Cllr James Buchanan died ("A vastly experienced councillor, he always put that knowledge to good use, but his particular passion was town centre regeneration and his drive and enthusiasm will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.” - Cllr John Campbell)

Fiona CAMPBELL (Scottish National Party)
Jon HERD (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)
Stephen MCNAMARA (Scottish Libertarian Party)
Dave MEECHAM (Scottish Labour Party)

2007: Lab 2925 (45.0%), SNP 2569 (39.5%), Con 502 (7.7%), Ind 350 (5.4%), Sol 151 (2.3%)
Elected: 2 Lab 2 SNP

2012: SNP 2070 (46.7%), Lab 2038 (46.0%), Con 326 (7.4%)
Elected: 2 SNP 2 Lab

Ward profile:

To the north of the ward situated between Craufurdland Water to the west and the A77 bypass to the east is the council estate of New Farm Loch. The estate consists of rows of grim grey council housing, with some flats to the south. There are also a few mixed suburbs on the edges of the estate (at the very northern tip of the estate and to the west of the estate), with some more attractive villa properties in the south-east. This is a staunch area for the SNP who managed to take 44.3% of the vote in the New Farm Loch North & Dean ward at the 2003 council election and 58.5% of the vote in the New Farm Loch South ward at the 1999 council election. 

South of the railway line, the ward takes on a more suburban character towards the A77 and around London Road, with some frayed edges. It stretches west to cover part of Kilmarnock's relatively attractive, albeit highly deprived, town centre. At the 1999 and 2003 council elections this area, mostly covered by the Kilmarnock Central East ward, was a tight Labour-SNP marginal, going SNP by a majority of 12 votes in 1999 and Labour by a majority of 73 votes in 2003. Today, as with the vast majority of Kilmarnock, this area is SNP territory, though it is also the most Conservative-friendly part of the ward.

Crossing the A77 to the south-east is the grim ex-coal mining village of Hurlford, and its adjoining hamlet of Crookedholm, which is mostly made-up of council housing. Traditionally Hurlford has been among the staunchest Labour strongholds in East Ayrshire, contrasting the SNP's traditional strength in New Farm Loch.  In 2003 Hurlford delivered a thumping 70.6% Labour vote. Today it's safely in the SNP bracket, though Labour's underlying strength here could make itself known in this by-election.

Kilmarnock East and Hurlford is a mostly working class ward which has traditionally been an important battleground between the SNP and Labour: though today, as with much of Scotland, it has trended heavily over to the SNP. We know that both Kilmarnock and Hurlford voted in favour of Scottish independence back in 2014, and my notionals suggest that this ward had a "Yes" vote of approximately 53% contrasting a wider No vote of 53% in the Scottish Parliament seat of Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley, which had a massive 55.4% SNP vote in 2016.

I believe that this ward should return another SNP Councillor easily: the most important figure will be the Conservative vote - if they can get a high enough vote share here to win themselves a Councillor under normal circumstances (with all four wards up for grabs) that will be a very good sign for them.