As a Penicuik resident born and bred, I care about our town and know that we need a stronger voice to ensure that we are heard loud and clear in Midlothian Council.
It will not come as a surprise to many residents that Midlothian has seen a huge increase in house building in the past ten years, with another large estate being built in Greenlaw Mains and houses being constructed along the road from Penicuik to Straiton. Whilst I recognise that we cannot and should not stand still, there has been little in the way of infrastructure improvements delivered to Penicuik as a result of these developments. The development at Greenlaw Mains will result in a roundabout on the Mauricewood and Biggar Roads (although there was hardly any advance notice for residents) but that is about it. In my professional roles I have been involved with developer contributions, and I know that Midlothian is not driving a hard enough bargain from developers to get the best deal for residents. I support the reinstatement of the railway line from Edinburgh to Penicuik via Loanhead and a faster and easier Park & Ride. This was investigated by the council ten years ago but nothing of any substance has happened. I will do all I can to move it forward.
Of course as well as developing new infrastructure, we need to address the state of our existing infrastructure. I acknowledge that Midlothian Council have undertaken some road resurfacing, but many of our busier roads and pavements are in a poor state as traffic increases and budgets are cut. I believe that this is a false economy as ultimately the roads need maintained to a proper standard and the bill will only get higher. We need to have a plan to address small repairs when they arise instead of waiting for accidents to happen.
The High Street is a perennial issue here; one seemingly peripheral to the priorities of the Dalkeith based council. We are in a great location between Edinburgh and Peebles, and just off the main road to England, yet nothing which has been tried has got Penicuik to become a thriving town centre again. We need to use the new control which Scottish councils have over business rates to encourage shops to return and I will support local events and initiatives 100%. I do not have all the answers but it is the job of a councillor to listen to and work with those who do, and this includes local business associations and councillors.
A big issue for many is the future of council provision of social care. As our population ages so the costs and pressures of care provision escalate, both for families and councils. We must work with the UK and Scottish Governments to reach a funding settlement which adequately provides for Midlothian residents who have paid into the system all their lives and for their carers who need the right help and support.
Part of the problem in Midlothian in recent years is that our SNP councillors, MSP and MP are all more interested in constitutional issues than actually running Midlothian. I will represent Midlothian and give it the attention which is deserves; our schools, roads; council services and social services. I hope that you will give me your 1 vote in May.