Falkirk Council Election 2022: Voters go to polls on quiet day that could bring big change

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There was a steady stream of voters throughout the day at polling stations across the Falkirk Council area on Thursday.

But with a much higher number of postal votes than usual, experienced campaigners agreed the polls had been unusually quiet before the pace finally picked up with a flurry of votes after teatime.

Candidates from all parties were reluctant to forecast any results – but all said their messages on the doorstep had been well received by voters.

The SNP is hoping that it will not only maintain the comfortable lead it held last time but this time do enough to take control of Falkirk Council – and it is the only party fielding enough candidates to have any hope of doing so.

Group leader, Cecil Meiklejohn, was out and about early at Thornhill Road Community Center polling station, alongside first-time council candidate, Iain Sinclair, who is also standing in the Falkirk North ward.

They are aware of national opinion polls showing support has ebbed away from the Conservative party as anger at the Partygate scandals shows no sign of disappearing.



Cecil Meiklejohn and Iain Sinclair, SNP candidates in Falkirk North
Cecil Meiklejohn and Iain Sinclair, SNP candidates in Falkirk North

But they are also aware that might not translate to results in Falkirk.

Mr Sinclair said: “It’s so unpredictable this voting system that we are just focused on our campaign and what we could do locally with a positive, strong administration.”

They say that the local issues they are hearing about include the town center regeneration – a central plank of their campaign.

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And SNP group leader Mrs Meiklejohn said there are still lots of people who want to talk about the “big issues” – the economy and Independence, which would give them “the economic levers to truly move into recovery mode”.

“We want to give a positive vision, one of hope for the future which is desperately needed since the pandemic and with the cost of living.”

Also at Thornhill Road was Falkirk North’s Alba candidate, Dr Zohaib Arshad.



Alba candidate in Falkirk North, Dr Zohaib Arshad, pictured right, at Thornhill Community Center polling station
Alba candidate in Falkirk North, Dr Zohaib Arshad, pictured right, at Thornhill Community Center polling station

He said he had found lots of support when speaking to people about the Scottish Government’s health and well-being survey for school pupils – dubbed the ‘sex survey’ due to the explicit nature of some questions – which he said many people were angry about.

Across in Polmont, later in the day, Labor campaigners also had a positive message.

Buoyed by national opinion polls which had them moving ahead of the Conservatives into second place, Falkirk Labor are also energized by eight new candidates, three of whom are still in their 20s.



Labor candidates Euan Stainbank, Siobhan Paterson and Anne Hannah
Labor candidates Euan Stainbank, Siobhan Paterson and Anne Hannah

Veteran campaigner Ian Peattie said: “People are crying out for change. They are fed up with cuts to services and believe you me, we are on the way back!”

Stopping his campaigning for a brief chat, Labour’s Euan Stainbank, 22, said: “It seems people either see my age as a really good thing – that we need more young energy on the council – or, as somebody said to me on the doorstep , I thought you were a wee boy!

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“But I think she said she’d end up voting for me.”

He added: “The one think you’ve definitely seen on the doorstep is young people after the pandemic are thinking far more locally and they actually care – they see the issues that we’re talking about are impacting us as much as everyone else. “

Another first-time candidate, this time for the Conservatives, Claire Brown, said she had enjoyed the highs and lows of campaigning.

“My stomach’s been in knots all day – I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink!” she said. “But whatever happens, just being selected to stand is something to be proud of.”



Retiring councilor John Patrick, Independent candidate John McLuckie;  Conservative candidate Claire Brown
Retiring councilor John Patrick, Independent candidate John McLuckie; Conservative candidate Claire Brown

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“It’s a massive opportunity to be involved in decision-making that will affect these communities – that’s key for me.”

“Working together collaboratively with other parties for the greater good of Falkirk and the surrounding areas is a necessity for things to change – and it needs to change.”

The message she has been hearing on the doorstep, she said, is that parties need to start working together.

“It shouldn’t be about political parties – it should be about the benefit of the people of Falkirk,” she said.

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Joining her at Slamannan polling station was someone with plenty of political experience, former Labor councilor John McLuckie, who was deselected by his party after 15 years.

He stood again in the hope that as an independent he won’t be bound by decisions made by the party.

“I’m actually glad – the campaign has been good. As an independent you’ve got freedom to vote and get the best for your community.”

The campaigning now over, there’s nothing left for the candidates to do but wait until the votes start to be counted at 9 am tomorrow in Grangemouth.



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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