By-election result could herald major shake-up in leadership at city council

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VOTERS went to the polls yesterday in a crucial by-election that could lead to a fundamental shift in the leadership of the coalition which runs Aberdeen City Council.

The vote for a new councillor to represent the Dyce, Bucksburn and Danestone ward follows the death in February of veteran Liberal Democrat member Ron Clark, who had been in public service for more than 30 years.

That left the SNP and Lib Dem groups in the ruling coalition each with 13 councillors.

John Stewart, the leader of the Lib Dems, is currently leader of the council, but an SNP by-election win will mean the SNP replacing his party as the largest group.

That could lead to a major change in the leadership and in councillors heading the main committees in the administration, which has ruled the cash-strapped authority since 2007.

Both group leaders, however, have declined to comment until after the result is declared this morning.

The SNP's victories in all three Aberdeen seats at the Scottish Parliament elections has made their candidate, Neil MacGregor, 58, a member of Dyce and Stoneywood Community Council, the favourite.

The other candidates are Kristian Chapman (Lib Dem), Angela Joss (independent), Graeme Lawrence (Labour), Rhonda Reekie (Green) and Ross Thomson (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party).

There could also be further changes in the council power struggle. A by-election will also be held on 23 June in the Airyhall/Broomhill/Garthdee ward to elect a replacement for the disgraced former councillor, Scott Cassie.

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