PENICUIK LABOUR – PENICUIK FIRST is not only my campaign slogan but a firmly held belief I’ve had as a councillor since 1986 and also now as a candidate for the forthcoming Midlothian Council election on 4 May.
I have lived in Penicuik for 36 years with my 3 children receiving an excellent education at primary and secondary schools in our town while my wife has lived here all her life. As a member of the excellent Broomhill Day Centre management committee I see first hand how well our elderly are cared for. I coached an Eskmill Boys Club football team and one at Penicuik High for ten and two years respectively, I also helped to organise football scholarships for college/university places in the USA for six players. Marchburn Playgroup had their funding cut by the Council and I was able to arrange an emergency grant for £2,250 from my local grant funding budget to keep them open and followed this up with a further £1,000 this year – this is a great organisation and is the only playgroup in Penicuik so I was happy to help.
I always have and always will put our community at the forefront of everything I do.
I HAVE PENICUIK IN MY HEART AND SOUL
During my time as a councillor I am proud of what I have been involved in delivering for our community. These include:
- £14 million Swimming pool, Library & Leisure Centre
- £6 million Cuiken primary
- £6 million Strathesk primary
- £10 million new council housing in Cuiken & Ladywood
- £1million Penicuik High School refurbishment
- £1.2million public park improvements including:
- Penicuik Athletic Stadium, Penicuik Rugby Club & Penicuik Athletic FC match standard floodlights, fooodlit skate park, floodlit astro turf pitch, Bog Road changing rooms,
- Boule Court, two 2 sets of 7 a-side goals for Penicuik Athletic Youth FC
- £500,000 refurbishment of Penicuik Town Hall
- £500,000 roof replacements /repairs at Penicuik & Beeslack High schools
- £80,000 Sacred Heart Primary trim track & play equipment, Cornbank Primary basketball nets and woodland adventure trail, Penicuik YM/YWCA floodlit tennis courts, Ladywood astro 5 a side pitches & CCTV, Cornbank Nursery safety fencing
- £2,000 Mauricewood Mining Memorial
- £178,000 Rullion Road speed bumps & flood prevention works ,Windsor Drive grasscrete parking measures, Penicuik Town Hall pedestrian crossing, Wellington Cottages street lights & road resurfacing from A701 to Howgate
- £300,000 Penicuik Precinct resurfacing joint contribution
- £10,000 Pomathorn Road safety steps & drainage works ,Penicuik railway walkway tunnel lights
When the Ladywood Centre was declared surplus to requirements in order to meet Sport Scotland’s grants criteria to qualify for funding for the new Penicuik swimming pool, library and leisure facility I was involved in the inaugural and subsequent meetings to set up the Trust which now successfully manages the community facility .I also arranged for a council officer’s secondment for the first year of the trust to help and guide the local volunteers and although there was a lot of political posturing and misleading information being put around at this time I was committed to keeping Ladywood open and along with other responsible civic minded residents we basically got on with the task in hand and it is to their credit that over 10 years on the centre is open and thriving.
At the last election in 2012 both Labour & SNP had eight councillors each with an Independent Tory and Green Party councillor making up the 18 elected representatives on the council – in spite of their constant criticism of the Tory government and Westminster the SNP immediately made a deal with the Independent Tory to take control in Midlothian with the Green Party representative voting with them on nearly every issue.
When Edinburgh City Council wanted to introduce road pricing I led the campaign against the unfairness of the proposals as it only applied to vehicle owners from outwith the capital and that it would be punitive for Midlothian residents / businesses accessing the capital and I argued successfully that it should only be considered if it applied to all vehicles. Edinburgh residents eventually took part in their Council run referendum and the congestion charge idea was overwhelmingly defeated.
The traffic problems on the A701/ A702 are horrendous with buses and cars taking over an hour to drive in /out of Edinburgh at peak times – I successfully put forward a motion to Midlothian Council to support a rail link from Penicuik to Edinburgh which although agreed has been paid lip service by the SNP. This has been backed up by a rail transport feasibility study I commissioned with Heriot Watt University which proved the viability of the Penicuik rail link with the proposal to join the Borders railway at Dalkeith being the most likely and cost effective route. The costs involved are between £40-50 million and when constructed would provide a major boost to the Penicuik travelling public, reduce congestion and pollution to our environment (click here for in depth analysis of the studies). At a recent meeting to consider future transport proposals for the South East of Scotland an opportunity arose to put this at the top of Midlothian’s priorities under the soon to be announced Edinburgh City Deal and I put this forward as a motion to the meeting. The SNP supported by their coalition Tory partner voted instead to include an extension of the railway from Galashiels to Carlisle. The Green councillor voted with myself and my Labour colleagues – with the vote tied at nine all Penicuik councillor Joe Wallace unbelievably used his casting vote as Provost to support the Galashiels option. This was clearly a bad decision for Penicuik and a temporary setback – I have subsequently written to the Council’s chief executive to negotiate funding in the Edinburgh City Deal for rail consultants to carry out additional work on a Penicuik railway and if re elected I will continue to campaign for what would be a tremendously beneficial addition to our public transport and related environmental improvements.
Penicuik residents have benefitted from the council’s house building programme – as Leader of Midlothian Council when we started this initiative I was proud to be part of the first local authority in the United Kingdom to build council houses since this was stopped by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. With 4,500 residents on Midlothian’s waiting list 842 homes were built during the 5 years Labour were in control – the SNP have built 188 in five years in Midlothian since 2012 and people can make their own judgement on these figures which are totally correct and can be verified.
As a responsible dog owner I get really annoyed by dog fouling and I have arranged for additional dog foul bins at various locations in Penicuik with new signage in the public/school parks to advise dog walkers to “bag and bin it”. I also put a successful motion to the Council restricting the sale of fireworks including where they can be set off and this has been welcomed by pet owners in Penicuik and beyond.
The threatened closure of Beeslack Community High School must be opposed and the SNP are now publicly stating that they will close and build a new school nearer to Loanhead. Beeslack is one of the top performing schools in Scotland yet the SNP are describing it as undesirable due to the school roll and this proposal is nothing short of educational vandalism. If am re elected I will campaign with pupils, parents and community groups to have a new school built on the existing site while the students can be relocated to Penicuik High during this time. The flawed ‘logic’ behind this ridiculous idea is based on pupil numbers being below 750 (Beeslack has 698 and Penicuik 569 ) and by following this criteria Penicuik High School would also fall foul of this flawed numbers game. The new housing at Mauricewood and Deanburn will generate 280 primary and 200 secondary children and this would take the combined school roll for our 2 existing secondaries to just below 1500. With a wee bit of imaginative review of catchment areas the future of Beeslack and Penicuik high schools should not be under threat even by the SNP’s numbers.
The Labour Party are putting forward 10 candidates on May 4 with the intention of taking control of Midlothian Council bringing experience and professionalism back to running our services.
Of the current eight SNP councillors only three of them are standing again for their party and with the Nationalists having had four Leaders in the past five years it has been a poor reflection on their way of treating our citizens.
This is not an Independence Referendum or a General Election it’s about who will represent Penicuik best for the next five years.
I have the energy, commitment and experience to ‘do the job’ and If I am re-elected on May 4 I will continue to do my utmost for the people of my home town.
I respectfully ask for your support/vote:
PENICUIK LABOUR — PENICUIK FIRST
MONTGOMERY ADAM 1
SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY