Wednesday July 14th 2021
Craig Hoy MSP highlights the potholes in Penicuik.
Craig Hoy MSP, South of Scotland, writes his monthly column for Midlothian View.
I was pleased to recently hold a street surgery in Penicuik. I welcomed the opportunity to get out and about and to talk to so many people at home on a warm day.
Despite not being able to jet off for their summer holidays, many people were out in their gardens, enjoying the sunshine and were in good spirits.
They were upbeat about the future, with Covid restrictions hopefully continuing to be lifted in the coming weeks. Of course, this is dependent on the SNP pushing ahead with the UK vaccination rollout and getting fully on top of the Test and Protect system, which they have allowed to become completely overwhelmed.
It was also clear from my discussions that there are a number of local issues which need to be addressed.
First off, many residents said a better plan to develop and guarantee a vibrant town centre in Penicuik is required. Across the country, Scotland’s high streets are suffering and we need a renewed focus on safeguarding our town centres.
Too many of them have become a proliferation of takeaway restaurants, empty shops and To Let signs. Penicuik has a growing population and with traffic congestion heading into Edinburgh now a growing problem, people are looking for encouragement to shop, eat and drink locally.
That’s why I have written to the Chief Executive of Midlothian Council asking for a meeting to discuss a plan to regenerate Penicuik’s town centre. It would be welcome to see a range of shops, offices, hospitality venues and services such as takeaway restaurants and hair salons all vying for space and customers in our towns.
During the election my party proposed a High Street recovery plan and I remain fully committed to this.
Many residents also brought up the state of the roads. A few of the streets were described as being ‘pothole central’ and this is understandably a cause for concern. I’ve also asked the council to look into this, as it is not only unsightly but also potentially dangerous to drivers and cyclists.
Speeding also remains an issue, as does the provision of amenities such as playparks, which too often look neglected and where facilities need a fresh round of investment.
In recent years Midlothian Council, like all Scottish councils has seen its budget slashed by the SNP Government in Edinburgh despite the UK Government giving it billions in additional spending which should have protected and enhanced present levels of expenditure.
Sadly it is residents who have had to pay the price, both in terms of higher council tax and rents as well as lower spending on core services such as roads and playparks.
As a new MSP for South Scotland, which includes Midlothian South, I will be pushing hard at both a national and local level to try and fix these problems.
They may be everyday issues and bread and butter problems, but they really frustrate residents and I fully understand why.
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