Debate on Midlothian Council’s nuclear group membership

Nuclear convoy travels along the Edinburgh City Bypass on route to Midlothian
Nuclear convoy travels along the Edinburgh City Bypass on route to Midlothian

A row erupted last week on whether or not Midlothian should remain a member of Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA).

SNP councillor Joe Wallace had asked officers in August to ascertain whether or not Midlothian Council was a member. It was reported at last week’s full council meeting that Midlothian was a member and council had discussed its representation on the group in June 2017.

The Conservatives last week questioned the cost of being a member, which in the current financial year is £1340. Councillor Andrew Hardie, who raised a motion to leave the NFLA which was then defeated, said: “It seems to be a waste of the limited resources we have. It doesn’t seem to have achieved anything.

“We are increasing the charge for Tonezone, yet spending money on an organisation we didn’t even know we were a member of.”

Fellow Conservative councillor Kieran Munro added: “It’s costing us over £1,000. I’m tired of telling constituents we have no money. I don’t think we should be sending them any more money.

“I don’t doubt the sincerity of this organisation. I think there is other things we should be giving over £1000 to.”

Labour councillor Russell Imrie, Midlothian’s representative on the group, described the situation as an “administration blip” and he revealed he recently attended the first meeting he had been invited to, adding: “As far as I am concerned Midlothian is a member and it has been a member. I don’t think this is an appropriate way of doing budget business. It may well be one that’s looked upon but for today I don’t think it’s appropriate.”

Councillor Wallace said: “I think it’s important that Midlothian is a member of the NFLA. We are one of the councils where they park up nuclear weapons overnight within 100 yards of three of our schools.

“The MOD shows total disregard for the way they convoy this material, nuclear waste and weapons. They travel in all weathers.

“It’s been proved time and time again that they have had accidents. Fortunately nothing too serious. But the next one just may well be.”