Letters to the Editor

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Calling for action

I write in response to the letter to The Advertiser on Thursday 7 January regarding the Nationalist Administration on Midlothian Council’s decision to fully support council officers in turning the area in Buccleuch Street into another car park, voting down the Labour motion moved by Councillor Russell and myself to build 12 studio

council flats for single people.

This site had earlier been identified for studio flats. However, this was changed because council officers – not the public – wanted it for parking, even though Dalkeith needs another car park like it needs another charity shop.

During all my life as a trade union official and councillor I have always stood up for the people who elected me and not the bureaucrats, unlike the current administration which consistently does exactly what officers tell them.

When Labour was in control of the council in Midlothian, we built more than 800 houses.

Is it perhaps the case that, given the number of Nationalist MPs, MSPs and councillors who are private landlords, that there is a reluctance to build council houses and instead they prefer to support the

private sector that continues to charge sky-high rents?

There is a housing crisis in Scotland, the worst in living memory and – while I accept 12 flats wouldn’t solve the problem even in Midlothian – at least 12 people could have had their own home instead of staying with parents, or sofa surfing or living in homeless accommodation.

I intend to write to Shelter and other homeless charities and urge them to become more proactive rather than just pumping out statistics and discussion documents.

They should help people housed with private landlords to organise themselves, taking a page from history and organising rent strikes and protests.

They should also be at the forefront putting forward the case for homeless people when planning applications are being decided.

If the Nationalist administration of Midlothian wish to call a meeting to explain why we need more parking spaces for officers rather than housing I am more than happy to come along and argue the case

for more public rented housing.

Councillor Alex Bennett (Labour)


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