Conservative candidate relishes election chance

Keith Cockburn


Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate for Midlothian, Keith Cockburn says the General Election on July 4th is a chance to beat the SNP and end their independence obsession for good.

Keith says that Labour have proven they are too weak to stand up to the SNP and their agenda.

Keith claimed that Labour MSPs in the Scottish Parliament have helped the SNP pass some of their most flawed policies such as the gender recognition reform bill and the hate crime act.

Mr Cockburn said that is only the Scottish Conservatives who will hold John Swinney’s independence-obsessed and failing SNP Government to account.

Keith Cockburn says that it is only by voting for the Scottish Conservatives in Midlothian that will ensure that the focus moves onto people’s real priorities and away from the SNP’s independence plans.

Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate Keith Cockburn said: “I am relishing this General Election on July 4 and getting out and speaking to voters in Midlothian about their priorities.

“This election is a chance to beat the SNP and stop their independence obsession for good.

“You can only do that by voting Scottish Conservative in Midlothian. Labour have shown they are too weak to stand up to the nationalists.

“In Holyrood they have helped pass some of their most flawed pieces of legislation such as gender reform and the Hate Crime Act.

“It is only the Scottish Conservatives who are holding John Swinney’s independence-obsessed and failing SNP Government to account.

“By voting for the Scottish Conservatives in Midlothian you can ensure that the focus will move onto people’s real priorities such as reducing NHS waiting times, creating good jobs and investing in our schools and help put an end to the SNP’s independence obsession.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats select Ross Laird to fight General Election


Midlothian candidate; Ross Laird, for Scottish Liberal Democrats, in forthcoming General Election.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today announced that local campaigner, Ross Laird, has been selected as their Parliamentary Candidate for Midlothian at the forthcoming General Election.

Ross is a local resident in Penicuik, where he has lived with his family for the past 15 years. Over the years, he has played a leading role in Midlothian through his work supporting young people, both in the community and at college, and promoting active travel. As a small business owner and global healthcare adviser, he also understands local and international business concerns.

Commenting on his selection, Ross Laird said:

“I’m honoured to have been chosen to represent the Liberal Democrats at this crucial election. People I speak to are looking for change both in Westminster and Holyrood. They are no longer prepared to keep voting Conservative or SNP and are looking for people with new approaches and new ideas. The Liberal Democrats have been overturning massive Conservative majorities in rural areas leaving no seat safe in the UK.

“People in Midlothian and across the UK deserve high quality health and education services. I am passionate about giving young people the best possible start in life, prioritising health and social care, growing our economy and addressing climate change.

“Now is the time for change. If elected I will be a hard-working champion and a fresh voice for Midlothian.”

‘Alarm bells ringing’ over rising cost of George Street revamp


An artist's impression of the revamped George Street. Image Credit Edinburgh Council

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Donald Turvill

“Alarm bells” are ringing loudly amid the rising cost of revamping Edinburgh’s George Street, councillors have said as they fear a repeat of the city’s botched tram project.

It’s now projected work to transform the city centre thoroughfare into a cycling and pedestrian zone will cost just under £40m – up £7m from the last estimate and significantly higher than it’s original £28m price tag.

Councillors said they felt “increasingly nervous” about further rises and agreed to “pause and take stock” before putting spades in the ground at the transport and environment committee on Thursday, May 23.

Officials argued the scheme was “great value” as around £30m would have to be invested in maintenance of the street even if the planned public realm enhancements – which include wider pavements, trees and cycle lanes – were cancelled.

They said “value engineering options” would be presented to councillors later this year in a bid to bring costs down.

Project manager Jamie Robertson said most of the added £7m was related to diverting underground utilities – a complex part of the construction process which was poorly managed during the city’s trams fiasco and contributed to costs spiralling out of control and huge delays.

Conservative councillor Marie Claire-Munro said: “My concern is, as we’ve seen with the tram costs which escalated once the project got underway, where are we getting the money from and do we have the money if suddenly this starts getting really, really expensive? Because it already is.”

Around 70 per cent of the funding is expected to come from external sources such as Transport Scotland, while the remaining 30 per cent will have to be met from the council’s own resources.

Cllr Kevin Lang, Lib Dem group leader said: “Somewhere between £9m and £12m of that £40m is going to come from the council, so I just think we need to pause and take stock.”

He said the increased cost projection “has backed up the alarm bells which we began to ring last year about the cost of this project,” adding: “Those alarm bells are ringing louder today than they were last summer.

“At every stage when this project has come to us the figures have changed.

“The trajectory is clear, and I don’t sit here with the confidence that it’s going to cost £39m. I think it’s going to cost a lot more than that.

“As this scheme is evolving I’m a little bit worried it’s becoming a Frankenstein project and it will actually end up pleasing nobody.

“I do worry as we go forward this will become a massive sink-hole for active travel and other budgets.

“I think it is significant there is a growing number of members of this committee who are looking at this and getting increasingly nervous and increasingly worried about it.”

Danny Aston, SNP, said the George Street redesign was a “fantastic concept” but “money is an issue”.

The project was more centred around “placemaking and economic development rather than primarily relating to active travel,” he said, “yet the funding for it is coming from active travel streams”.

He added: “I do also have some concerns the active travel benefits this project would bring are gradually being watered down with the hotels getting coach access.

“I think we should pause now and I think there are more fundamental questions here we need answers for.”

Conservative group leader Iain Whyte said: “When we had the tram, at this kind of stage things jumped by the time we went to contract.

“The trajectory is clear, and I don’t sit here with the confidence that it’s going to cost £39m. I think it’s going to cost a lot more than that.

“We’ve heard officers are optimistic about this scheme . . . my problem is I’ve seen this approach before, and I can’t be as optimistic as is being suggested.

“We have lost of other things to do in this council and we have no money. It’s time we stopped this, it’s time we had a full review of the scheme.”

Transport convener Scott Arthur, Labour, said doing “nothing” on George Street “isn’t really an option”.

He said: “Inevitably there was always going to be some crunchy bits we were going to have to work our way through before we press the button on this. We’re not quite there with that yet.

“I think we all understand the benefits to the businesses there, the residents there and also the city.

“George Street is right at the heart of the city, but is also at the heart of our plans for the city centre.

“I absolutely acknowledge the pressures on funding and I don’t take them lightly. But I’m reassured we’re going to get a further report on that before the end of the year.”