Meet your Greens

Tuesday April 18th 2017

Meet Your Greens

The Scottish Green Party candidates standing in the local elections on May 4th 2017

There is a Scottish Green Party candidate standing in each of the six Midlothian council wards in the the forthcoming local council elections on Thursday May 4th. Read the profile of your local candidate here.

Helen Blackburn

Helen Blackburn – Midlothian West

I have lived in Rosewell for almost eighteen years. I have been a director of the Rosewell Development Trust since 2012 and have helped to organise events such as the Big Lunch and other community gatherings. I am also a committee member of Rosewell and District Community Council.

In the last few years I have seen the Rosewell post office and both pubs close down while the village doubled in size. Further planning applications have been submitted yet there is no infrastructure to support the hundreds of new people moving into the village, and the bus service has been cut leading to heavier dependence on cars.

I am employed by NHS Lothian as a mental health nurse and have a good understanding of health and social care issues. I have also worked in Further Education and Homelessness Services. I am passionate about dementia and would like to see the council work with communities to make Midlothian dementia-friendly but this cannot happen while care services are subjected to constant cuts.

I am standing for election because I believe we need a new approach to delivering the public services that Midlothian needs. Sterile arguments every year between the two main parties about what services to cut get us nowhere.

The Greens have secured agreement that the Council will develop renewable energy schemes that will provide a new source of income to fund local services. If elected I will push for those schemes to be implemented so that we can build more council houses designed for the needs of our ageing population, pay our carers more than the Living Wage, and ensure that all our communities are provided with shops, surgeries and schools.

James Garry

James Garry – Penicuik

I have lived in Midlothian for almost thirty years having moved here to work on children’s farm education projects around the Bush estate.

I am committed to the belief that local decisions should be made by local people. Residents must have a real say over local developments and we need more transparency from all councillors so they can be held accountable for the decisions they make.

Our more vulnerable community members have right to enjoy some dignity and the council must protect essential care services, community facilities and leisure and green spaces.

I passionately believe in safer streets and will fight for 20mph in all Midlothian’s urban and rural residential areas, longer time for people with disabilities to cross the road, improved and better integrated bus services, proper space for cyclists on roads and well maintained pavements for pedestrians.

I would push for all new public and private housing to be energy efficient and for retro-fitting of insulation to existing housing stock reducing carbon emissions, lowering household bills and reducing fuel poverty.

I am an environmental professional by training and have worked for most of my life with public bodies and councils in and around the Central Belt. I now work as an Assistant Director for Scotland’s oldest heritage charity.

With election policies and promises being rapidly discarded by the ‘mainstream’ Scottish parties in a self-interested grab for power, I believe, more than ever, that local politics should be about local issues and the interests of local people. It should not be about big party political issues. That is why I am a Scottish Green and that is how the Scottish Greens will represent Midlothian residents in May 2017.

The Scottish Green Party is the real alternative. VOTE FOR THE SCOTTISH GREEN PARTY and for a better, brighter future for Midlothian!

Malcolm Spaven

Malcolm Spaven – Midlothian South

I’ve lived in Midlothian for eleven years. I work for the renewable energy industry as a consultant, working from home at Gladhouse.

I’ve been a member of Moorfoot Community Council for three years, dealing with planning issues, development of hydro energy and community-based broadband. I’m also active with the Midlothian Federation of Community Councils, developing their responses to the local and strategic development plans and to particular planning proposals.

I’m standing as a candidate for the Greens because I‘ve seen the enormous concern from a wide spectrum of people across Midlothian that the county is on an unsustainable path, with thousands of new private houses being built when the pressing need is to provide social rented housing for people who already live here.

The system is massively skewed in favour of the speculative property developers. If we don’t turn this juggernaut of over-development around we will end up with Midlothian as a commuter belt with houses and town centres empty all day, roads more and more clogged with cars, and many more Midlothian people left behind with poor job and housing prospects and inadequate social, medical and school facilities.

This broken system is also swallowing up good quality farm land and open countryside that we should be protecting so that we can grow food for local markets, keep our air and water clean and have easy access to open spaces for a healthy lifestyle.

The Greens say that we should stop allocating more and more land for housing in Midlothian and that we should meet the needs of the people who already live in Midlothian first.

Much of this requires action at national level which is why the trebling of the number of Green MSPs at the last Holyrood election was a major step forward. But we can also do a lot more at local council level to generate extra funds to pay for local services, to find sites for new council houses and to stop new housing developments being built without any meaningful facilities in them.

We need a new approach. More of the same is just not good enough. Our one Green councillor, Ian Baxter, has achieved a lot in five years. But to really make a difference to the future of Midlothian we need several more Green councillors.

Jill Simon

Jill Simon – Dalkeith

I was born and raised in Midlothian. I’ve lived in Danderhall, Loanhead, Bilston, Auchendinny and Penicuik and many of my family live in Dalkeith.

I am standing as a Green Party candidate because I think only the Greens have enough commitment to tackling environmental issues and to a fairer, more equal society.

I have run my own business since 2008 and I’m passionate about making businesses sustainable. I have a wide understanding of the challenges faced and the benefits to gain when choosing to go green and how simple changes to policies could enable other businesses and communities to do the same. I will work hard to ensure more independent local businesses thrive in our town centres, creating more local jobs and self employment, keeping the wealth within our community.

I also think we need to do much more to ensure that children have equal access to education. From my own family experience, it’s clear that kids with additional or special educational needs are not getting the support that they need and deserve. I’ll campaign strongly for extra provision in those areas.

As a child I witnessed my community’s heart wrenching end to its industrial past and now we see its replacement with swaths of commuter houses. I remember the A720 opening and how it was deemed a successful solution to traffic congestion. Look at how short lived that “solution” was.

Now we are faced with more commuter towns being built with so-called “affordable homes” on our green spaces and more roads planned for short term congestion relief. It’s time for action. It’s time for local communities to have their say. The Green Party will ensure that local people have a proper say in decisions on developments proposed in their community.

That’s why I’m standing as Green Party candidate for Dalkeith.

Ian Baxter

Ian Baxter – Bonnyrigg

I have lived in Bonnyrigg for 36 years with my wife Karen, a retired Primary school teacher. I worked in IT and Finance for 30 years, then as a freelance Bookkeeper for social enterprises and charities. In 2012 I was elected as Midlothian’s first Green councillorand have dedicated my time to that task.

My emphasis as a councillor has been to work with other parties to find common ground and try to make a real difference at a time when local government is under enormous pressure. We have to find new ways of working and often there is a surprising amount of common ground.

Issues such as climate change, active travel and sustainability have until recently just been paid lip service to by all other parties and within the council, and although this is changing much more pressure is needed. This will only happen if more Green councillors are elected.

We are seeing many new housing developments with inadequate infrastructure to support them. There is no sustainable or integrated transport strategy for Midlothian which supports our growing local economy. Unless we address this critical issue before it’s too late, we will face permanent gridlock which will become very difficult to resolve.

Helen Armstrong

Helen Armstrong – Midlothian East

I moved to Midlothian (Penicuik), with my husband and son, eleven years ago.

In 2008 I ran a campaign to persuade Midlothian Council not to build houses on the playing field of my son’s primary school. Although we ultimately failed in our aim, I learnt a lot about the workings of Midlothian Council. I have also been actively involved with a primary school parent council (which I chaired for 3 years) and the Penicuik High School parents’ association, as well as being a member of the Penicuik Community Development Trust. My interests include hill walking, cycling and gardening as well as approaches to improving both physical and mental health.

I am an ecologist by training and, after many years working for various public bodies carrying out research, and providing advice, on land management, I am now a part-time consultant, advising on the management of woodland and upland habitats. In my spare time I campaign for better land management of the Scottish uplands. I have had a lifelong interest in Green politics, finally joining the Scottish Green Party in 2014 when my son was finishing primary school and I had a little more spare time.

I think the Green party is the only party that understands the connections between economic, environmental, social and personal health and wellbeing. Although it is important to have a thriving economy, it is equally important that living and working conditions foster healthy communities and healthy people. Only the Green party has policies that can deliver all of these.

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