AN independent candidate has won a Highland by-election after receiving over 40 per cent of first-preference votes.

Maureen Ross was elected with 1022 first-preference votes, and will join SNP councillor Derek Louden and Highland Independent Alasdair Rhind representing the Tain and Easter Ross ward.

Seven candidates stood in the race to replace former independent councillor Fiona Robertson.

At last year’s local elections, the SNP received 30.61% of first-preference votes – however on Thursday that percentage slipped to just 18.83%.

Meanwhile, the LibDems were the party to receive the largest amount of first-preference votes, returning 24.48% of them.

The Scottish Tories saw their support fall slightly from 10.6% to 8%, while Scottish Labour, who did not previously stand a candidate in the ward, returned just 3.5% of first-preference support.

Turn-out for the vote was 34.4%. Ross was elected at stage six under the STV system.

The make-up of Highland Council is now as follows:

Caithness Independent – 1
Highland Independent – 18
Independent – 1
Inverness Independent – 1
Non-aligned – 1
Scottish Conservative – 9
Scottish Green Party – 4
Scottish Labour – 2
Scottish LibDems – 14
SNP – 22
Sutherland Independent - 1

The full breakdown of first-preference votes was as follows:

SNP – 464
Scottish Greens – 56
Libertarian – 23
Scottish Tories – 207 
Scottish Labour – 88
Independent (Maureen Ross) – 1022 
LibDem – 603