Letters to the Editor

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It’s time to get involved locally

Sir, – Elsewhere in this newspaper, you will see an article by Kevin Quinn, which explains the work of our community councils and among other things, highlights the need for more volunteers to join and represent our communities.

Here in Newtongrange, the need is possibly greater, because Midlothian Council have just announced that money is available for the complete regeneration of Newtongrange ‘centre’ and that they will shortly start a consultation with interested parties, including ‘The Community’.

Currently, the ‘centre’ of Newtongrange consists of a broken and unrepairable church building; a Trim Centre in a converted hall which was an ‘add-on’; to the now demolished miners’ institute; an ageing swimming pool where the mechanicals are unsupportable without great expense; a library in a 50 year old building, built with a 25 year lifespan; and some tired and aging 1970’s planters and architecture; all surrounding the statue of a coal miner to remind us of the mining heritage of our village.

It is all long overdue regeneration and replacement, and Midlothian Council have promised to start their consultation with a ‘blank canvas’.

However, there are already some plans afoot to convert some of this area into housing, and Midlothian Council has a past history of granting planning permission for housing on any available piece of land - the medieval graveyard at Bryans Corner; the woodland adjacent to Gorebridge’s old gas works; and every available field surrounding our village where farmers currently rear and grow our food - in part I believe, because they secure ‘developers contributions’; from all new housing - money which they desperately need to maintain our schools, roads and services.

Additionally, among those likely to be part of the consultation are Castle Rock Edinvar Housing Association and Walker Holmes, whose primary interests lie in the development of housing in and around Newtongrange.

Sadly, the two politically-opposed Midlothian councillors from Newtongrange, elected to represent the interests of all of the people of Newtongrange do not even speak each other - far less can they work together in the best interests of our village, and only two members of the current community council are under 70 years of age, and so they are unlikely to have the drive and commitment to argue the case for the facilities and requirements of ‘The Community’ when it comes to completing the ‘blank canvas’ of our future village centre.

If Newtongrange is to have a viable, thriving village centre - with possibly a community building; a surgery; a library; a playschool; or whatever ‘The Community’ requires, it needs people to step forward and represent those views during the consultation - people who have a long term interest in the future of Newtongrange; not just for themselves, but for their children and grandchildren!

Otherwise, we will simply lose the centre of our village under another mass of houses, and Newtongrange will slowly become just another huge and impersonal housing estate.

You can be involved by attending, supporting or joining the Newtongrange Community Council, or by taking part in the forthcoming consultation concerning OUR village.

There are currently four vacancies on the community council and the next meeting will be on Tuesday, November 29 at 7pm in the Newtongrange Library. In the interests of the future of our village, please come and join us. – Yours, etc.,

Ron Campbell


Newtongrange Community Council

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