Councillor gives his by-election View

Wednesday March 24th 2021

Midlothian House

Midlothian East Councillor, John Hackett Labour, gives his View.

With one day left of campaigning before polling day, I offer an assessment of the 5 candidate’s campaigns to fill the vacancy in Midlothian East that was created following the resignation of Councillor Kenneth Baird (SNP) earlier this year.

The Liberal Democrats are noticeable by the absence of a campaign. Checking their local Facebook group, it appears the local party has been inactive, certainly on social media, since September 2020. I could not find anything online and don’t recall receiving a leaflet from their candidate or know how to contact them.

Some residents will know local Green candidate Joy Godfrey who has a proven track record of campaigning on local environmental issues and regularly attends the Eskbank and Newbattle Community Council. I have worked closely with Joy on a number of community projects over the years and I know she is passionate about her local community. I have clocked Joy out campaigning and I am sure she has worked hard to be heard in this brief campaign. Sadly for Joy, the Midlothian Greens don’t appear to have any local policies and it is unclear what the priorities would be if Joy were elected.

Midlothian Conservatives have been busy with two newsletters reaching residents and plenty of activity online. I know local candidate Alan Symon well, first meeting him in his role at MYPAS some years ago. I have got to know Alan personally and is someone I have been able to work with positively through the Community Council and other forums. Alan has focused on local issues such as fly-tipping, transport, housing and supporting local businesses, but misses the mark by calling for the Council to repair the A68 which is the Scottish Government’s responsibility.

As predicted though, Midlothian Conservatives are attempting to use this council by-election as another battleground on the question of Scotland’s place in the Union, with “No Referendum” blazoned over the latest leaflet. This election is about local issues and who leads the Council and not Scottish independence.  Whilst Alan raises plenty of local issues, the Midlothian Tories offer no solutions and fail to acknowledge their national policies in government have led to many of the issues we face in our community.

Midlothian SNP have predictably run a negative campaign and little wonder as it would appear local candidate Stuart Mckenzie’s message is being controlled by Colin Beattie MSP with his wife Lisa acting as Agent.  The SNP continue to peddle their half-truths and to make up policy on the run. The SNP have attacked Labour’s agenda in education but make no mention of how they would do things differently. There is no mention of the £3.5 million shortfall in funding to Midlothian for the delivery of 1140 hours of childcare. No promise to fight for a fair funding deal for our county, the fastest growing in Scotland. Just the usual grievance politics while offering no alternative solutions. Given Stuart’s volunteer work during the pandemic, I have no reason to doubt he is a decent, genuine person. It’s a shame he has allowed the local SNP machine to control his campaign.

Last but not least is Midlothian Labour’s Hazel Flanagan. I have first-hand experience of Hazel’s work as an advocate for the community. She rings me regularly to raise local issues or speak up for families that need support from the Council. With a life time of living, working and supporting families in the local community, Hazel has a record residents can be confident in.

Hazel’s campaign has not just raised the issues she believes are important, but crucially outlines how she would work to resolve them.

Hazel is the only candidate that has endorsed:

  • New primary schools in Mayfield and Easthouses as well as refurbishments for Kings Park, Woodburn and St David’s
  • A digital device for every pupil and improvements to digital learning across the county.
  • The review of Catholic Education which aims to improve education outcomes for children and modernise school buildings.
  • 232 new Council homes in the Ward, part of Labour’s plan to deliver 1000 new homes across Midlothian by 2022.
  • Commitment to maintain the Council funded Community Action Team, delivering 12 additional Police Officers to the county.
  • Joint working with SUSTRANS and other outside bodies to deliver improvements to road safety and our transport infrastructure.
  • Reforming our local services to tackle fly-tipping, dog fouling and keeping our green spaces tidy
  • Keeping the Council financially secure, making the tough decisions when needed
  • Campaigning for a fair funding deal for our county, challenging both Holyrood and Westminster, whom ever is in power


You will see that Hazel has covered many of the issues the other candidates have raised but more importantly, offered an insight as to how she will work with others to resolve them.

Midlothian Labour has led the Council as a minority Administration since the council elections in 2017. Working with Councillors from other political groups is an absolute must to keep the county moving ahead. I am proud of our track record in this regard, standing on our Labour values, listening to residents, negotiating compromise, all with the aim of getting best outcomes for our communities. Labour’s success is evidenced by the fact the last two Council budgets were supported unanimously at the Council.

I am confident Hazel will bring this same approach if elected.

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