CONSERVATIVE candidate Alan Lamont has been elected as the new South Ayrshire councillor for Girvan and South Carrick.

Mr Lamont was elected at the fourth stage of counting following a by-election in the ward on Thursday.

Returning officer Eileen Howat, the local authority’s chief executive, announced the result shortly before 1.30am on Friday at the counting centre in Girvan Primary School – nearly three and a half hours after the polls closed.

The result gives the Conservatives a slightly firmer grasp on power in South Ayrshire.

While still a minority in their own right, with 11 of the area’s 28 councillors, the authority's Conservative group has ruled with the support of independents since shortly after the last full council election in May 2022.

The by-election result means the Conservatives and four independents now comprise a clear, if slim, majority in the council chambers.

Thursday’s by-election was called after the local authority’s former leader, SNP councillor Peter Henderson, announced early in June that he would be retiring at the end of that month for health reasons.

Mr Lamont saw off challenges from SNP candidate Joe McLaughlin, Nicola Saxton for Labour, Jamie Ross for the Liberal Democrats, and the Alba Party’s Denise Sommerville.

He will serve the Girvan and South Carrick ward alongside his Conservative colleague Gavin Scott and long-serving independent councillor for the area, Alec Clark.

The result means the SNP's presence in the council chambers is now reduced from nine councillors to eight.

Mr Lamont was close to being elected at the first stage of the count, with 1,315 first preference votes – 47.5 per cent of the total – against the SNP’s 779 votes, with Labour on 499, the Lib Dems on 108 and Alba in 70.

But under the proportional voting system used for council elections in Scotland, it took three further stages of counting before Mr Lamont prevailed ahead of the SNP candidate.

As the candidate with the lowest number of first preference votes, Ms Somerville was eliminated at the first stage of counting, with Mr Ross eliminated at the second stage and Ms Saxton at the third.

A total of 2,802 votes were cast – a turnout of 32.4 per cent, compared to one of 46.7 per cent at last year’s full council election.

Video footage was posted from the count on X – formerly Twitter – by Kevin Dyson from the BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Originally from Girvan, Mr Lamont served in the armed forces for seven years and as a police officer for a further 25, the latter mainly in Ayrshire and Glasgow.

He also stood as a Conservative candidate in the Ayr East ward at the May 2022 local authority election, losing out to party colleague Mary Kilpatrick, Labour’s Brian McGinley, and Chris Cullen of the SNP.

The Girvan and South Carrick ward stretches from Culzean Castle in the north to the shore of Loch Ryan in the south, where South Ayrshire meets Dumfries and Galloway.

As well as Girvan, it includes the settlements of Turnberry, Kirkoswald, Maidens, Dailly, Barr, Pinmore, Colmonell, Lendalfoot, Barrhill and Ballantrae.