WITH only days to go before the polls open in the Buckie by-election, the four candidates have been pounding the streets in efforts to clinch every last vote.
The ballot has been prompted by the resignation of Anne McKay, who stood down in November for personal reasons.
Voting will take place on Thursday next week, with the count taking place in the Fishermen’s Hall the following day.
Gordon Cowie, secretary of Buckie Community Council, is standing as an Independent candidate.
He said: “The issue at the moment is the schools’ review, that seems to be the hot topic at the moment. The biggest concern is nobody knows what’s going on and there seems to be a lot of speculation, and that can grow arms and legs. They’re speaking about their schools being closed while nothing’s been decided.”
Mr Cowie added library closures was another issue being talked about in the Buckie ward communities.
“The problem seems to be that the mobile van is only an hour at Portknockie and an hour at Findochty. They were expecting a bit more than that,” he said.
“My main concern is what’s best for the people in Buckie, Findochty, Arradoul and the other communities in the ward that I’m standing in.
“More affordable housing in Findochty would help with the school roll and other things, and I’d like to see Findochty harbour dredged so it can be used. That’s the kind of things local people are bringing up.”
Retired teacher Margaret Gambles is standing as a Conservative candidate.
“This is not an easy time for the council as more pressures are put on services that the council provide, while at the same time budgets and available resources reduce,” she said.
“One of the key decisions taken recently was the closure of libraries, including Findochty.
“It is interesting to note that every councillor on Moray Council, including the SNP group, at some point in the last year voted to close Findochty library, so clearly this is not just an administration verses opposition issue.
“We are also in the middle of a school estate review and a sport and leisure review, and it will be important that councillors in the Buckie ward make the views of local people known.”
Mrs Gambles said that, if elected, she would encourage more inward investment to the area, clamp down on anti-social behaviour and work with businesses to bring more people into the town and surrounding villages.
She added: “I am also a proud Unionist and will be fighting hard until the referendum in September to ensure the SNPs plans to separate Scotland are defeated.
“I believe in Buckie, Moray and Scotland we are Better Together.”
Marc Macrae, who is standing as an Independent candidate was born in Buckie.
“I’m getting a great resonance on the doorstep,” he said. “It’s good to get out and about in Buckie, and it’s been good to catch up with people.
“A lot of the issues being raised are Moray-wide, particularly the dog mess on pavements and the future for schools. I think there’s a lot of scaremongering surrounding the review, but folk are worried about it.
“It is unhelpful to speculate. When they come out with a conclusion and a proposal that’s the time to start fighting back.”
Mr Macrae added that concern over a lack of facilities for young people in the area was a big issue, in terms of a youth café such as the one in Elgin.
He said: “My main concern, right from the start, is that the young and the old will be facing the brunt of the cutbacks. I want to make sure there is no reduction and that services can be enhanced.”
Former staff nurse at Seafield Hospital, Linda McDonald, is the SNP’s candidate in the ward.
She said: “The campaign is going well, I’m getting plenty of support from family, friends and the party. There has been a good positive reaction.
“People are worried about the schools and if they will be closing, and the review of leisure centres and other facilities, which are well used.
“They have also been asking about Buckie harbour and what kind of development is going on there, and of course the library closures. Other issues people are bringing up include care in the community, and there are issues with the roads and housing.”
Mrs McDonald is hoping for a strong turnout when the polls open on Thursday.
“There are a good number of people who have opted for a postal vote, about 17%. I would encourage people to go out and cast their vote,” she added.