A TRANENT councillor has vowed to continue fighting for the people in his ward after quitting the SNP – "to concentrate on local issues".

Kenny McLeod was first elected as an SNP member in 2007 and will continue be part of East Lothian Council as an independent member.

The 62-year-old, who lives in the town, announced he was quitting the party the day after the Supreme Court ruled that Holyrood could not hold a second independence referendum without Westminster’s consent but stressed the two matters were not connected.

He told the Courier: “Due to personal reasons and after discussions with my family, I have decided to stand down as an SNP councillor to concentrate on local issues as an independent local councillor.

“I have now been elected for my fourth term and have been a SNP member for over 20 years, so this decision wasn’t taken lightly.

“Over the years, I have built up a strong relationship with constituents and East Lothian Council from my previous roles as chairman of the community council and as the youngest bench serving Justice of the Peace in Scotland for 10 years.

“This might not be a surprise to people close to me, but with just over four years until the next election I think this is the correct decision to make.

“One ex-councillor said to me some years ago that I was an SNP councillor, but not an SNP activist, which on the face of it was correct.

“My thoughts on Scottish Independence have not changed or were a factor in my decision and I will keep doing my bit to help the cause.”

East Lothian Courier: Tranent councillor Kenny McLeod and wife Catherine with their grandog HugoTranent councillor Kenny McLeod and wife Catherine with their grandog Hugo

Mr McLeod, who earlier this year underwent a quadruple heart bypass operation, thanked everyone for their continued support.

The former Heart of Midlothian player suffered tightness in his chest in May last year and spent several hours in hospital before being given the all clear to return home.

Over the following months, he underwent various scans and tests before having a stent inserted to help with the flow of blood in November last year.

However, he was left “overwhelmed with shock” when doctors told him he would require a further operation – a quadruple heart bypass.

A coronary artery bypass graft involves taking a blood vessel from another part of the body, including from the chest, leg or arm, and attaching it to the coronary artery above and below the narrowed area or blockage.

In February, the father-of-two was back in hospital to undergo the invasive operation – which lasted several hours – with six nights spent in hospital recovering post-op.

Already, he has promised to keep fighting for people in the area as an independent councillor, with no intention of joining ALBA or any other party.

Mr McLeod added: “Now that we are post Covid-19 things will not be the same, but I have to do what’s best for myself and my ward.

“I appreciate that there will be SNP members that might not be happy with my decision, but I would also like to thank them all for their continued support over the years I have been their councillor.

“Finally, I would publicly like to thank the SNP council group for their help and support since the May elections and wish them all the best in the future.”

The departure from the SNP means the party now have six councillors on East Lothian Council.

That is second in number to Labour (10), with the Scottish Conservatives having four, and the Scottish Green Party having one.