CONSERVATIVE candidate Gemma Penfold has been elected to represent the Helensburgh and Lomond South ward on Argyll and Bute Council.

Ms Penfold, who runs a dance school in Helensburgh, was declared the winner of the vote after only one round of counting following a by-election on Thursday, March 18.

Ms Penfold's victory was announced by the authority on Twitter shortly before 1pm on Friday.

According to a Twitter feed for and by Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners, Ms Penfold secured 1,206 first preference votes - slightly more than half the total, and more than twice as many as the SNP candidate, Math Campbell-Sturgess.



Six candidates contested the by-election, which was called after the death of long-serving Liberal Democrat councillor Ellen Morton in October.

The result means that the ward will have two Conservative councillors until at least next year's full council election. Provost David Kinniburgh already represents the ward along with SNP councillor Richard Trail.

READ MORE: Profiles of the six by-election candidates in Helensburgh and Lomond South

During campaigning, Ms Penfold had set out mental health as a key priority, and had welcomed a new service to support military veterans at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

She said during the campaign: “I am proud to live in this ward with my family and want to make a difference on the council by being a strong voice for these communities.

“As a local business owner, I have been acutely aware of the challenges that have been faced with lockdown restrictions and we need to see a greater sense of urgency from the SNP Government to get vital funding to businesses who need it most.

“The UK Government have put measures in place to support businesses like mine and we need to see the SNP do the same for businesses in this area.

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“I believe the lockdown has also brought issues surrounding mental health to the fore, particularly among our young people and we need to invest more in getting those who require it the support they need.

"It is also a vote for a strong voice on the council to help our communities build back better after the pandemic.”

The turnout for the by-election in Helensburgh and Lomond South was 41.8 per cent.

A by-election was also held in the council's Isle of Bute ward on Thursday, and saw independent candidate Liz McCabe elected at the fifth round of counting in a close five-way contest.