Letters to the Editor

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Insulting integrity

The council group were debating a motion proposed by Kelly Parry, SNP councillor Midlothian West, calling for all political parties in Midlothian to unite against the views of the Scottish Defence League (SDL) outlining our opposition and condemnation towards their blatant racist behaviour and beliefs and in part to recognise and support the City of Edinburgh Council for their decision to ban an attempt by the SDL to hold a march in Edinburgh.

At the conclusion of the debate I stated “ I read a report that they (the SDL) were ‘disgusted’ (not ‘discussing’ as per Councillor Muirhead’s recollection) at not being able to march through Edinburgh because most of them had come up on planes and trains from South of the border. It goes to show that the SDL are mainly from people south of the border”.

The last sentence was my interpretation of the report and as you the reader will clearly see does not infer Councillor Muirhead’s suggestion that I think “racism stops at the border”.

This statement by Councillor Muirhead and his suggestion that I am a racist is an insult to my integrity.

As representative of both the region and people of Midlothian through my duties as provost and councillor I encourage equality regardless of race, belief, religion, sexual orientation or identity.

I do at every opportunity advocate for positive action against any form of discrimination or hate crime at local authority and national level.

This SNP motion received cross-party support and should have demonstrated to the people of both Midlothian and the UK that despite our different political beliefs we are able to unite in our condemnation of racism, hate crime, discrimination and the SDL.

The Labour Party in Midlothian have by their outrageous allegations and the manipulation of facts, unquestionably demonstrated they have no policies to offer the people of Midlothian and need to resort to these tactics unbecoming of them.

Cllr Joe Wallace

Provost, Midlothian Council


Riding roughshod

Gorebridge Community Development Trust is dismayed and troubled by the recent decision by Midlothian Council Local Review Body to overturn the rejection of outline planning permission for ten houses at the former Arniston 
Gas Works to the west of the A7.

We agree with previous condemnations of the decision by Gorebridge and Moorfoot Community Councils.

The application by Pegasus for planning permission in principle for the housing was rejected on June 30 by council planners.

This was largely because it contravened Midlothian’s local plan and because of the absence of good public transport links.

The way the council’s review body rode roughshod over such concerns has already been well documented. We commend Green councillor Ian Baxter, the only member of the review body to oppose this, for being a rare voice of sanity in this debacle.

The local review body turned a blind eye to the Forestry Commission’s recommendation that this site should be returned to natural woodland, following earlier illegal tree felling.

Councillor Jim Bryant comments in his letter of November 5 that the site is a “dump” and an “eyesore” but it is the very fact that the site was brownfield and has had the chance for natural succession of the ecological habitat that makes it such a special site, where at least two rare plants exist.

Sites like this are excellent for natural regeneration just like Gorebridge bing where the University of Edinburgh makes field trips to study the habitat.

On the other hand it could be argued that if turning a potential site into a “dump” means it’s far more likely to get planning permission, what signal does that send to potential developers?

The site also forms an important boundary to the unique habitat of the Esk Valley 

Two rare plant species that are not found anywhere else in Midlothian are Wintergreen (Pyrola Media) and hellebore orchid (Epipactus Heliborine).

To develop this site would fly in the face of the Scottish government’s Biodiversity Action Plan which stipulates that “all councils have an obligation to implement and enforce the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity”.

Given the presence of these rare species it is essential that, before the first sod is cut, the council at the very least carries out an environmental impact assessment.

The vegetation along the Borders Railway corridor has already been drastically over-felled. Isn’t it about time that some respect was shown for the wonderful countryside around Gorebridge?

People move to Gorebridge because of its natural beauty. This site is in the buffer zone of the Esk Valley corridor and Gore Glen. Eat into it and a bad precedent is set for erosion of the natural habitats around Gorebridge.

Gail Halvorsen


Gorebridge Community

Development Trust


Parade thank-you

Loanhead and District Community Council would like to thank the people involved and the community for rallying round and making Loanhead’s Remembrance Day possible.

In particular, thank you to Irene Hogg, Nan Haddow, Stewart White our fantastic piper, David Watson our brilliant bugle player and also a huge thank you to Christian Garden whose professionalism and commitment made it a day to remember.

Pat Kenny


Loanhead and District

Community Council