Councillors’ baby box clash

Baby Box distribution centre and assembly line at APS Group Edinburgh, where each Baby Box is handmade and individually packed.
Baby Box distribution centre and assembly line at APS Group Edinburgh, where each Baby Box is handmade and individually packed.

Conservative and SNP councillors clashed at the recent full council meeting over the recently introduced Scottish Government baby boxes.

The new scheme which began last month sees baby boxes containing clothes, books and blankets delivered to new mothers across Scotland. The cardboard boxes also include a mattress and can be used for babies to sleep in as an alternative to a crib.

Following an SNP motion at the council meeting welcoming the introduction of baby boxes, Conservative group leader Councillor Pauline Winchester raised the £160 cost of each box and questioned why this “national initiative” was being discussed by Midlothian councillors, she said: “If the SNP government were concerned about poverty you can actually get a cot for less than £100, and focusing on those in need would have helped.

“This is another national initiative that the SNP has decided to talk about and one that we can do nothing about in this council. Instead of concerning themselves about the dire state that Midlothian finds itself in they are using valuable time speaking on matters of which we have no influence.

“I encourage them to concentrate on matters for the council otherwise people will start to think that they are more concerned about national issues and propaganda rather than working for the people of Midlothian.”

SNP group leader Cllr Kelly Parry noted that not everyone has to take a baby box if they feel they don’t need it, she added: “I’m really surprised that such a nice motion has turned into such negativeness and hostility. It’s a very Midlothian-specific motion, there was recently a piece in the local press highlighting the baby boxes, however I was quite concerned that there was comments from our own electorate that perhaps didn’t see the value of the boxes and some didn’t know about, so we thought it was really important to raise awareness.”