Local Politics

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Go straight to May 2017 local election result

Burntisland was one of the first burghs to experience a form of party politics in Town Council elections. This happened in the early years of the 20th century, when James Lothian Mitchell, the illegitimate son of a domestic servant and an agricultural labourer, came to prominence. He and his 'Mitchellite' supporters dominated political life in the town from 1903 until Mitchell's death in 1908. They achieved much in those five years. Despite strong opposition from less enlightened councillors, they succeeded in getting for Burntisland its fine public library. And by their purchase of the Rossend estate, they planted the seeds from which developed the socialist initiatives of later years.

Please click here for the story of James Lothian Mitchell, including a number of contemporary photographs. Contents:
Part 1 (1863-1902) - Setting the Scene: The Early Years (includes photos of Burntisland School staff)
Part 2 (1903-06) - Battles with the Railway Company and the Sacking of the Headmaster
Part 3 (1904-07) - The Fight for the Public Library and the Visit of Andrew Carnegie (includes photo of the Brass Band)
Part 4 (1907-08) - The Purchase of Rossend Estate and the End of an Era (includes photos of the Volunteer Artillery)

Many folk in Burntisland hanker for the days of the old Town Council, which ceased to exist when local government in Scotland was 'regionalised' in 1975. Perhaps sadly, there is no prospect of a return to those old days - but there does seem to be some recognition of the desirability of devolving more responsibility to Community Councils.

Please click here to see what the old Town Council looked like in 1964.

Burntisland Community Council meets monthly in the old Town Council chamber. With limited powers and resources, it does its best to stimulate interest in local affairs and to influence decision making by Fife Council and other organisations.

From the reorganisation of local government in 1975 until 2001, the Labour Party took the lion's share of the honours in local government elections in Burntisland. Labour councillors were regularly elected to Fife Regional Council and Kirkcaldy District Council, and from 1995/96 to Fife Council. The exceptions were periods of Scottish National Party and Conservative/Independent representation in the District Council ward which included the eastern part of the town.

In a by-election in the Auchtertool & Burntisland East Ward of Fife Council in September 2001, the Liberal Democrat candidate won a surprise victory. He was unable to consolidate his position, however, and in May 2003 he was replaced by local Independent candidate William Leggatt. Councillor Leggatt died in August 2005. In the subsequent by-election in September 2005, Scottish National Party candidate George Kay won a convincing victory.

In 2007, the Single Transferable Vote system of proportional representation was introduced for all local government elections in Scotland, and the number of wards in Fife was reduced from 78 to 23. Each ward is now a multi-member ward with either three or four councillors. As at May 2017, the total number of wards in Fife is 22, and the total number of councillors is 75. When voting, the voter marks the candidates in order of preference - 1, 2, 3, etc. The counting of the votes is a complex process, and a detailed description can be found in Wikipedia.

The results of the 2017, 2012 and 2007 elections in the ward containing Burntisland were as follows:

Result of election held on 4 May 2017

Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy Ward


No. of first preference votes received


Kathleen Leslie (Conservative) - elected at Stage 1


Lesley Backhouse (SNP) - elected at Stage 7


Gordon Langlands (Labour) - elected at Stage 10



Susan Leslie (Liberal Democrat)


Roy William Mackie (Independent)


Stuart McPhail (SNP)


Scott Rutherford (Green)


Fiona Sword (Labour)


Peter George (Independent)


Bill Mair (Solidarity)


Turnout - 51.5%

Result of election held on 3 May 2012

Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy Ward


No. of first preference votes received


Peter George (Labour) - elected at Stage 1


George Kay (SNP) - elected at Stage 1


Susan Leslie (Liberal Democrat) - elected at Stage 9



Richard Walter Perry (Labour)


Sally Walsh (SNP)


Norman Morrison (Conservative)


Peter Adams (UKIP)


Anne Whyte (All Scotland Pensioners Party)


Louche Lord Lancaster (Monster Raving Loony)


Turnout - 41.7%

Result of election held on 3 May 2007

Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy Ward


No. of first preference votes received


George Kay (SNP) - elected at Stage 1


Ron Edwards (Labour) - elected at Stage 2


Susan Leslie (Liberal Democrat) - elected at Stage 5



Collett Salvona (Labour)


Jamie Potton (Conservative)


Peter Adams (UKIP)


Turnout - 54.0%
(The relatively high turnout compared with 2012 is attributed to the fact that in 2007 the local authority elections
were held on the same day as the Scottish Parliament election.)

How to contact your local Councillors

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