AN East Renfrewshire councillor has been chosen by the SNP to stand against local MSP Jackson Carlaw at next years Holyrood elections. 

Colm Merrick, who represents Giffnock and Thornliebank, was among nine people seeking the nomination for Eastwood at the Scottish Parliament.

Former Scottish Conservative party leader Carlaw won the seat in 2016 with the SNP a close second.

Merrick, 60, who is also the Eastwood branch treasurer, fought off competition from eight other party candidates.

They included Alex Kerr, a member of the SNP’s National Executive Committee and fellow East Renfrewshire councillor Caroline Bamforth, who is Convener for Health and Social Care.

Councillor Merrick told the Barrhead News this week that he was delighted to get the nomination against such a strong field of candidates.

He added: “I am humbled and honoured to have been selected by our local SNP members to fight the Eastwood seat. 

“I am grateful to my fellow nominees who represented a strong and diverse field, and to local members for expressing their confidence in me. As a dedicated local councillor and Convener for Community Services and Community Safety, my experience on the ground in Eastwood is vital.

“I already work hard for people in our local communities every day, and I am looking forward to a positive campaign and making our case for a better future with all the people of Eastwood.”

Originally from Ireland he settled in Scotland more than 30 years ago after meeting his wife. Before entering politics he built a successful career in IT.

He managed East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald’s Westminster campaign in December’s General Election when she ousted the sitting Conservative MP Paul Masterton.

The Eastwood parliamentary seat includes Neilston, Uplawmoor, Newton Mearns and Clarkston.

Jackson Carlaw was elected as MSP in 2016 with 12,932 votes defeating sitting MSP Ken Macintosh of Labour who was third. The then SNP candidate Stewart Maxwell received 11,322 votes.

However, Macintosh was returned as a List MP and is currently presiding officer at the Scottish Parliament.

Jackson Carlaw resigned as leader of the Scottish Conservatives in July.

The election for the Scottish Parliament is scheduled to be held on May 6.