A BY-ELECTION will be held next year in Edinburgh following the shock resignation of a senior SNP councillor.

Former Lord Provost Frank Ross stepped down last Friday after serving more than 10 years on the council.

His decision came less than 24 hours after a City Chambers meeting where the SNP group abstained from a vote on whether businesses in the Roseburn area disrupted for months by roadworks should be helped financially by the council – a move Ross previously backed as the local councillor.

A by-election to fill the vacancy in Corstorphine/Murrayfield will take place within three months of the resignation. Although the date hasn't been announced by the returning officer, the ballot will be held before Friday, March 17.

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The LibDems, who got half of all first preference votes in Corstorphine/Murrayfield at May's council election, will hope to snap-up a third seat in the ward.

And if successful, the total number of councillors in the group – which would be 13 – would be equal to Labour, who currently control the council.

Ross is yet to comment publicly on why he has left his role.

Council sources speculated his resignation was linked to the decision by his group's leadership to not vote with the Conservatives and LibDems in favour of compensation for traders impacted by extensive construction works in the former councillor's ward.

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Adam McVey, the SNP's group leader, said: “I'd like to thank Frank for his work over more than a decade on the council. He's been a tireless campaigner for the communities of Corstorphine/Murrayfield, as well making huge achievements leading the city's economic development and then becoming only the second SNP Councillor in Edinburgh's history to serve as Lord Provost. We wish him very well for the future post-council.”

A council spokesperson said: ”A by-election to fill the vacancy has to take place within three months of the resignation and the date will be determined by the Returning Officer.”