East-west divide in Midlothian?

Are things really worse in the east of Midlothian? Dalkeith town centre has been the subject of much debate in recent years with many saying it's long overdue a facelift
Are things really worse in the east of Midlothian? Dalkeith town centre has been the subject of much debate in recent years with many saying it's long overdue a facelift

Calls for a fairer share of jobs and better transport links in the county has sparked debate on a perceived east- west split in Midlothian.

Gorebridge Community Council member Trevor Taylor raised the issue at his group’s meeting last week, pointing to big companies in the west of the county such as MacTaggart Scott in Loanhead and bioscience organisations at Bush Estate.

He said: “Our local councillors need to fight much harder to get high quality jobs and better infrastructure here.

“If you have all the high quality jobs in Loanhead then people will want to go there.

“It is high time there was better quality jobs on this side of Midlothian.

“There are high quality jobs in the west of Midlothian but kids here can’t even get a direct bus there.

“I just feel that for a long time now big investment has all gone to the west not the east. We need to do more for this side of Midlothian.”

However, Penicuik councillor Derek Rosie (SNP) doesn’t believe there is any split in Midlothian.

He said: “We have started the business improvement district in Penicuik to regenerate our town centre. So I think every area has its issues about jobs and regenerating our centres.

“There is also things now happening in the east. Obviously with the Borders Railway coming that should revitalise the east side of Midlothian.

“And I would look to that bringing jobs to the area. It will bring people to the area to live and that will have a knock on effect with jobs created to increase infrastructure to service new homes.

“Personally I wouldn’t perceive any east-west split.

“On this side people in Penicuik think the east gets things better. That everything goes to Dalkeith and the east side. So I don’t think that viewpoint is unusual.

“I think it’s in all our interests to regenerate as many areas in Midlothian as we can.”

Councillor Rosie also revealed that plans are afoot for a new circular bus route to service Midlothian.

He said: “Better transport links is something that we are always looking to improve but a lot of the time it’s down to the bus companies themselves.

“Certainly what I’m trying to push for is making use of the Borders Railway. And we at the council are looking at some sort of hop on, hop off bus that goes around the county picking passengers up at the stations and taking them around the tourist attractions like Vogrie Park and Rosslyn Chapel, as well as places like Bush Estate. Possibly on a half hour service.

“There might be a way we can service the smaller communities on the route too.

“It’s obviously going to take a bit of time though.”

Councillor Bryan Pottinger (Lab), speaking at the community council meeting last week added: “There is lots of north-south links but none from east to west.

“Maybe as an area we might now have more clout with Cath (Johnstone) now council leader.”

Gordon Henderson, senior development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses said: “Midlothian towns have got different social and economic make-ups but that’s down to history.

“It’s laudable to campaign and argue for your area but Gorebridge has got a lot going for it.

“There is a boom in housing because of the railway.

“As far as transport goes that’s a very reasonable question. The east-west question is particularly interesting.

“Most bus transport goes south to north into Edinburgh. There aren’t many east-west links. It’s not a new problem. It’s a result of having a major city next door. That’s where all the jobs are, so all roads lead there.”

Midlothian MP Owen Thompson (SNP) said: “The fact that the Bush and Straiton are where they are means that yes there are a lot of job there.

“But with the Borders Railway there is a massive opportunity for the east side of Midlothian.

“That is why it was so critical that it happened.”