THE SNP have taken a by-election for the Highland Council ward of Fort William and Ardnamurchan.

The by-election was triggered by the unfortunate death of Conservative councillor Ian Ramon who was elected in 2017.

Voters went to the polls yesterday (December 2) and the by-election count was held in Lochaber High School this afternoon.

The total votes cast in the by-election was 2307 which represents 25.6% of the total electorate in the ward.

Sarah Fanet (below) of the SNP returned the most votes with 905 and was returned as the new councillor for Ward 21 of the Highland Council at the sixth stage of the count.

The National:

The Scottish Greens stood a candidate in the ward, the first time a Green candidate has stood in Lochaber. Dr Kate Willis a marine ecologist, wildlife tour guide and active member of Lochaber Environmental Group, received 328 votes, putting her in third place.

The Conservative candidate, Ruraidh Stewart, came second with 485 votes.

Full Results for Fort William and Ardnamurchan by-election:

  1. Sarah Fanet (SNP) - 905 votes
  2. Ruraidh Stewart (Scottish Conservative and Unionist) - 485 votes
  3. Kate Willis (Scottish Greens) - 328 votes
  4. Roger Liley (Scottish Liberal Democrats) - 231 votes
  5. Andy McKenna (Independent) - 194 votes
  6. Joanne Matheson (Independent) - 88 votes
  7. Mark Drayton - 56 votes


Her election means Fanet will join Blair Allan (SNP), Andrew Baxter (Scottish Conservative and Unionist) and Niall McLean in representing Ward 21.

The result was welcomed by SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who tweeted: "Congratulations to newest SNP councillor @FanetSarah - brilliant result!"

Fanet, originally from France, thanked the Highland Council staff and volunteers who helped to count the votes as well as those from the SNP who helped out in her campaign.

She said: "We feel very vindicated. The message that we need councillors who will listen and respond to the people of Lochaber has been heard."

She added: "Yesterday, the people of Lochaber elected a new councillor. A councillor who came to Scotland three decades ago and was able to stay because of free movement [within the EU]. You're talking to an ex-EU student who came to Scotland and without freedom of movement would not be able to talk to you today as your councillor.

"Sadly, over the last six weeks I have spoken to EU nationals who have said the welcome I enjoyed three decades ago seems to have gone a little bit.

"Some have told me they are not sure about their future or whether they are welcome. So I have one message to them: I am on your side, the SNP is on your side and we will continue to work hard to protect your rights, your dignity and we want you to know that Lochaber is your home and that you can stand for election and win. The people of Lochaber will support you - a great day for Scotland."

With this election, the current make-up of Highland Council is: 

  • Highland Matters (4)
  • Independent (24)
  • Non-aligned (1)
  • Scottish Conservative and Unionist (10)
  • Scottish Labour Party (3)
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats (11)
  • Scottish National Party (19)
  • Sutherland Independent Group (1)
  • Vacant (1)*

The recent resignation of Caol and Mallaig (Ward 11) councillor Ben Thompson within six months of the Local Government Election on Thursday, May 5, 2022, means his seat will remain vacant.