People of Midlothian: Derek Milligan

Friday May 5th 2023


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.

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