People of Midlothian: Derek Milligan


Councillor Derek Milligan.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Katie Gregory

Continuing our series of feature interviews with people in Midlothian reporter Katie Gregory met with Midlothian councillor Derek Milligan.

Councillor for Bonnyrigg and Labour Leader, Derek Milligan has solidified himself as a key political figure within Midlothian.

Prior to becoming a councillor for Bonnyrigg, Milligan was already very active in his community, both politically and socially. He has volunteered for Bonnyrigg Community Events Committee for over 30 years and was the head bottle washer and pie seller for Bonnyrigg Rose Football Club.

Councillor Milligan has a strong and functional relationship with his constituents, frequently engaging through social media platforms. Milligan had only good things to say about this new form of communication.

“Very few people nowadays want to wait a week or two weeks to see a councillor when he’s holding a surgery in a community the public has gotten used to instant access and quite frankly I think it works better for everybody. The earlier you know there’s a problem the quicker you can get it resolved.”

When asked what attracted him to the Labour Party, Milligan spoke of the core Labour values and how he believed they represented the working class people. Hearing him speak so fondly of the past, and the Labour Party when he was younger – I was keen to hear if he still felt so strongly about the party’s values.

“They represent the middle classes right across the board now, the reality is I think their hearts still lies in the main representation of the working people in the country.”

Councillor Milligan clearly shows no signs of straying from his political beliefs or party, and still feels as strongly about Labour today. Despite his unwavering commitment, Councillor Milligan has had his fair share of obstacles along the way.

When asked of his challenges so far, Milligan quickly mentioned his broken arm and heart attack – but in a brief, matter of fact way, that I could have missed had I not been paying attention. Councillor Milligan was more focused on the budget challenges in Midlothian and this seemed to take priority over any personal struggles. While discussing the budget, it is the first time I see a sense of frustration from Milligan, a frustration that matches those of his constituents.

“Probably balancing budgets and a council that’s by far, very far the fastest growing in Scotland and has been for some considerable time balanced against the budget which has been shrinking for the last 15 years.”

“I’m trying to get over to people that we’re not cutting services through choice. If you’ve only got a set budget you can only spend that set budget.”

When I ask about the highlights of his career, the smile returns to his face as he begins to tell me what he is most proud of.

“I think seeing the very first houses coming on stream was one of my proudest moments, being there and cutting the ribbon to open that estate.”

At the end of our interview, I was keen to hear what Councillor Milligan thinks of Scottish politics as a whole.

“I think politics across the country, and I mean for everybody, really needs to start concentrating on how we make sure that everybody feels supported in the country and has the same opportunities as everyone else.”

Milligan’s take is particularly refreshing as it doesn’t focus on politicians’ polarising ideas, but is centered around what people actually want and need. If you are struggling to keep up with nationwide politics – you can always find transparent policies and beliefs a bit closer to home.

People of Midlothian: Stephen Ball


Stephen Ball photographer. Copyright Stephen Ball Photography

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Sofia Villegas

In the second of a series of feature interviews with people in Midlothian reporter Sofia Villegas met with Midlothian photographer Stephen Ball.

Stephen Ball, a multi-award-winning photographer, has called Midlothian home for the last 25 years. Originally from London, he moved to Scotland in his early twenties. Although he settled down in the area for love, bearing it is where he met his wife, the local settings have helped him build a national reputation in the industry. Capturing a photograph of a poppy field ‘literally around the corner’ from where he lives, as he explained, led him to win the commended award for UK landscape photography of the year, which then went on a national tour.


Poppy Field. UK landscape photography of the year. Copyright Stephen Ball Photography

In 1996, Ball graduated as a Theatre & Lightning Designer and shortly after began working in London’s West End. When he first moved to Edinburgh, he used to work for the theatre industry, yet was unfortunately made redundant.

Photography runs in the family. His father-in-law was a Canon sales representative and a photography lecturer and, his wife used to be the manager of a camera shop. However, his interest in grabbing shots started long before this coincidence. “I guess looking back, even when I was a kid, I had a bit of an interest in it, because I went off to Yosemite National Park in America and really enjoyed taking photographs there. And, that was back when it was filmed, so you’d have like ten films, put into boots, and then wait a fortnight to see what you’ve got,” he explained.

Much to my surprise, all he knows is widely self-taught. A mixture of innate talent and strong dedication. “I used to go to a camera club in Penicuik, that my father-in-law started back in 1985 but it’s mostly just a lot of trial and error. I entered competitions and got feedback, looked at YouTube videos and magazines over the years,” he says. Talking further on his key to success, he added, “I’m not one of these photographers that shoots and automatically lets the camera do it. I’m always a believer in trying to get it right in the camera. I used to take hundreds if not thousands of photos, but now, I spend more time getting it right in the camera.”

Full of remarkable castles and breathtaking viewpoints, Scotland has become the gift that keeps on giving to Ball’s photography. “Scotland’s just got so much and it’s not too far to travel to, which I think is quite good. There are so many different spots, and locations across Scotland, it’s fascinating to go and photograph. I enjoy photographing places that people recognise because I sell a lot of my prints around the world,” he commented. Ball’s art has reached 26 countries.


Dalkeith Country Park. Copyright Stephen Ball Photography

He has won the commended award for UK’s best landscape three years in a row, and the commended award for Scottish best landscape twice, yet he acknowledges how difficult it is to make it in the industry. Speaking about his most recent commended award, he said, “I submitted about 35 images to the UK landscape photographer of the year commended award. And there are thousands of entries across the UK. It gives you a bit of reassurance that your photography is correct. It’s getting that sort of recognition.”

On top of the numerous commended awards, Ball already enjoyed recognition from a sold-out book – an album inspired by the Scottish landscape. However, this is just the beginning of a great career, as he is set to host ten talks across the UK next year and release a second book this upcoming summer.

Ball currently works for the government, yet looks forward to the moment his passion becomes his full-time job. “I’m hoping one day that this might let me reduce my full-time hours and do this a wee bit more,” he added.

You can see more of Stephen’s work at

People of Midlothian: Provost Debbi McCall


Midlothian Council Provost Debbi McCall.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Katie Gregory

In the first of a series of feature interviews with prominent people in Midlothian reporter Katie Gregory met with the Provost.

In May of 2022, SNP Councillor Debbi McCall was elected as the Midlothian Council Provost. Council Leader Kelly Parry nominated McCall and the vote was unanimous. Unbeknownst to us all, only months four months after her election – Provost McCall would stand outside the Dalkeith Corn Exchange and proclaim King Charles III as the new sovereign. This would be a defining moment for Provost McCall, as 300 locals gathered for the ceremony. Although this was certainly unexpected for her, Provost McCall took this in her stride and used the opportunity to show her strong and unwavering dedication to Midlothian.

Prior to her political career, McCall worked as a Welfare Rights Officer. Her job choice suggests that even before she worked as a Councillor, McCall wanted to support those who needed it the most. While studying at Stirling University in 2013, academic work was paired with personal reflection for McCall as she contemplated her political position and beliefs. With 2008 Labour frequently using the term “scroungers” – it was becoming increasingly difficult for McCall to differentiate between Labour and Tory rhetoric. After the 2014 Independence Referendum and careful consideration of her personal beliefs, McCall joined Women For Independence and then the SNP.

McCall was elected as Councillor for Penicuik in May of 2017 and has a close relationship with her constituents. When asked how she balances her responsibilities as Provost of Midlothian and Councillor for Penicuik – McCall explained how she sees the two as completely separate and it is clear she views both positions as equally important. As the interview continues, it becomes evidently clear why her constituents feel comfortable addressing their concerns to her – as her understanding nature is paired with a drive for change.

“I have had a long-running battle with Lothian buses about the return of the number 15 bus. Roads, lines on the roads and potholes are what the vast majority of people want to talk to me about”.

However, this motivation for change is not limited to transport, as McCall discusses diversity within Scottish politics. McCall praises the women around her; including Council Leader Kelly Parry, the first Female Provost Eleanor Mcloughin and the first Female Provost for Dumfries and Galloway, Tracey Little. Provost McCall also values intersectionality greatly and encourages all members of her community to get involved in local-level politics.

“We want representation from disabled people and ethnic minorities. We need to reflect our community.”

Furthermore, McCall talks of Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson – politicians who have conflicting beliefs but are positive role models for young women nonetheless. Following in their footsteps, McCall, Parry and Little could be just the role models needed for the next generation of Scottish women in politics.