Midlothian East By-election candidates have their say
Five candidates are set to fight it out for a seat on Midlothian Council when a by-election is held later this month.
The Midlothian East seat has been vacated after SNP Councillor Kenneth Baird resigned last month.
The SNP candidate for the seat, Stuart McKenzie, is a Dalkeith resident originally from Bonnyrigg.
He said: “My decision to stand for Midlothian Council is because I’ve always believed in social justice, fairness and building local community .
“I joined the SNP specifically because I believe Scotland will handle its own affairs better without the dead-hand of Westminster.
“Making people’s lives better through social progress requires fairness and openness. It requires local authorities dedicated to serving the people. ”
Scottish Labour’s candidate for the election, Hazel Flanagan, was raised in Mayfield and lives in Gorebridge
She said: “Coming out of the pandemic will present challenges for all, with many people potentially losing their jobs or having their incomes reduced.
“Midlothian Council’s Labour administration has prioritised creating as many local jobs as possible, by pressing ahead with building new schools, housing and other key local services that our communities need.
“Electing another Labour councillor will help to secure and re-enforce these projects and move our communities forward to a better future. “
Eskbank and Newbattle community councillor Alan Symon is standing for the Scottish Conservatives.
He said: “I’ll be working with my Scottish Conservative colleague, Councillor Peter Smaill, to address the issues residents care about, such as improving the A68 and addressing the fly-tipping crisis we’ve seen across Midlothian.
“As the fastest growing local authority in Scotland, Midlothian faces a unique set of challenges. With the SNP Government slashing funding for councils by over £400 million this year, these challenges are only set to increase.
“That’s simply not good enough and I will do what it takes to ensure Midlothian gets its fair share.”
Environmental campaigner Joy Godfrey is the Scottish Greens’ candidate.
Her campaign to highlight the pollution in the River Esk in 2018 forced a clean-up, costing Scottish Water over £150,000 and leading to ongoing work for the river’s wellbeing.
She said: “I have cared for our community for years. This includes working for four years founding One Dalkeith to bring people together from all parts of the town to regenerate Dalkeith socially, environmentally and economically.
“I have volunteered in MAEDT community garden and want to see affordable access to healthy food. I set-up a community resilience Facebook group for Newbattle and shared this model successfully across Midlothian.
“As a councillor, I will work hard for a green recovery from the pandemic, to build back better and develop green jobs. Midlothian needs better infrastructure. We need to collectively address climate change.”
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have nominated retired teacher Margaret Davis as their candidate.
She said she was standing to ensure voters in the ward had the chance “to support Willie Rennie’s commitment to put recovery first”.
A party spokesperson said: “If elected, Margaret’s main effort will be focused on improving the quality of education delivered by the council and also to make sure that as new homes are built in our area, proper provision is made for the transport and other infrastructure needed to build great communities.”
The Midlothian East by-election is on Thursday, March 25. For more information see www.midlothian.gov.uk/by-election.