A BY-ELECTION will be triggered in Clackmannanshire East as a councillor announced he is stepping down due to ill health.

Council papers published ahead of next Thursday's full meeting revealed Cllr Bill Mason of the Clacks East Ward tendered a letter of resignation earlier this month.

Documents say the decision came as a result of his ill health and will come into effect at the end of the year, on December 31.

The elected member was the leader of the Conservative group, but had been absent from recent meetings. He was substituted by colleague Cllr Martha Benny, who will take over the helm at the group.

Cllr Mason was also on a number of committees and external organisations and council will be asked to agree the appointment of Cllr Benny to the Audit as well as the Partnership and Performance committees among others.

The by-election to come could shake up the political balance at Clackmannanshire Council, which is currently led by a minority SNP administration with council leader Cllr Ellen Forson in the driver's seat.

The SNP currently has eight out of 18 representatives and an extra SNP representative would present a significant reshaping of the political landscape.

Should the administration contain nine councillors, the same as the combined opposition, it would be able to negotiate any deadlock in the chamber, as Provost Tina Murphy would be able to wield a deciding vote.

It is difficult to predict, on the other hand, whether the opposition parties could eye up a leadership position by taking the seat.

Following the 2017 ballot, Labour and the Conservatives, indeed, had 10 seats between them but opted not to form a coalition.

At that time, Labour leader Cllr Dave Clark insisted his party would co-operate when it comes to "good policies for Clackmannanshire".

Cllr Mason was on a similar page then also, saying voters gave a clear message that "they want co-operation".

He added: "And they want to see the council taking decisions that are absolutely right for Clackmannanshire, for the people of Clackmannanshire.

"We are very keen to ensure that the wishes, if you like, of the people in Clackmannanshire are reflected as much as we possibly can."