IT’S the birthplace of Scotland’s First Minister and remains hame to her parents Joan and Robin, both of who have been big names on the political scene in North Ayrshire for many years.
Labour currently lead the SNP group by 12 councillors to 10, with one Tory and six independent members making up the authority.
The SNP had 11 councillors in North Ayrshire until recently when councillor Catherine McMillan resigned from the party. McMillan isn’t standing in the election this time around and Alan Munro is standing as an Independent after not being selected as a Labour candidate.
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There was an SNP-minority administration from 2012 but the party relinquished control of the administration in August 2016 after losing its minority lead in the Irvine West by-election, when Robin Sturgeon, father of the Nicola Sturgeon, was defeated by Labour’s Louise McPhater.
The move, which allowed Labour to take charge on August 30, also saw the FM’s mother Joan Sturgeon resign from her position as Provost and councillor for the Irvine East ward. She had held this position since 2007, and took out councillor Willie Gibson as the head of the local authority.
At the time, the former Provost said: “With the change in representation on the council it is clear to me that I should allow a complete reset of the council administration, including resigning my own position. While the post of Provost is non-political it is elected at the start of every council term and it seems clear to me that I should allow that election to take place in tandem with the democratic election of the new administration. It has been one of the greatest honours of my life to serve the people of North Ayrshire and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to do so.”
Despite his defeat to Labour, Sturgeon’s father Robin has decided to come back for another bite at the political cherry but this time he won’t be standing against his Labour rival McPhater for the Irvine West seat.
Instead he is standing for the SNP, alongside Christina Larsen, in the Irvine South ward against two Labour candidates, one Tory, one Independent and one Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate.
The SNP group has a new leader in Marie Burns after Willie Gibson stepped down. She will spearhead SNP efforts to regain control of the council.
Burns, who has represented Irvine East since 2012, previously worked for Skills Development Scotland and Scottish Enterprise and is a member of the SNP’s Growth Commission.
The new SNP candidates Joy Brahim, for Dalry and West Kilbride, and Larsen, standing with Sturgeon, are Dutch and Danish respectively.
The only Conservative, councillor Tom Marshall, is standing again.
The National revealed recently that, in a now deleted tweet, Todd Ferguson, a Tory candidate in Dalry and West Kilbride in North Ayrshire, seemed to suggest the views of his SNP rival were irrelevant as she comes from Holland.
“I asked the local #SNP candidate why they supported the break up of the UK, being Dutch. The answer I got was that her partner is Scottish,” he said.
He then followed it up with another tweet saying: “Perhaps she forgot Market Garden”, a reference to an allied military operation in World War Two, where large swathes of Holland were liberated from the Nazis.
After The National alerted Scottish Tory HQ to the tweet, Ferguson deleted the comment, and posted an apology saying: “I sincerely apologise for a recent tweet of mine that may have caused offence. The tweet in question has since been deleted.”
A Tory spokesman said: “Todd Ferguson has apologised for any offence caused and deleted the post in question.”
The current Labour council leader Joe Cullinane is the youngest in Scotland and stands again as Labour leader in the Kilwinning ward.
He recently courted controversy in the local press when he was accused by CalMac ferry insiders of being “uninformed” over the battle to keep the Arran ferry services in Ardrossan.
He effectively questioned the authority of ferry captains who are bound by maritime law not to take risks, suggesting CalMac was to blame for increasing ferry cancellations rather than the not-fit-for purpose Ardrossan dock.
North Ayrshire Council’s main administration centre and largest settlement in North Ayrshire is Irvine, a new town on the coast of the Firth of Clyde, with a population of 39,527.
Other areas include Kilwinning with a population of over 18,000, Largs, the Three Towns – Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston, as well as Arran and the Cumbraes. The area was created in 1996 as a successor to the district of Cunninghame.