Doctor set to become first female leader in Midlothian

Lisa Beattie says the SNP is willing to work with all groups
Lisa Beattie says the SNP is willing to work with all groups
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A DOCTOR is set to become the first female leader of Midlothian Council after ousting the Labour Party from power after 84 years.

Nationalist Lisa Beattie will be confirmed as the new leader of the local authority next week after securing the cooperation of the county’s first Green councillor and an independent.

The 59-year-old said the party would work with all other groups to improve services.

Councillor Beattie marks a departure from previous leaders who have typically come from strong mining backgrounds.

She lives in a listed Georgian villa in Eskbank and is married to Colin Beattie, 60, the Midlothian MSP and a former high-flying banker.

Cllr Beattie told the Evening News today: “I am very pleased to be in line to become the first female leader of this council. People speak a lot about the gender deficit in politics so hopefully this will go some way to enabling other women to get involved.”

She added: “There is a great deal of work to be done and the SNP understand the need to work with all parties to get the best for the people of Midlothian. We know the future of local government will be very challenging. It will be tough and we’ll need creative thinking and sound financial management. “Often when the cuts come it’s the most vulnerable who are left behind – that will not be allowed to happen here.”

One council insider said: “Lisa is an extremely sharp lady, very switched on. There’s no doubt she and Colin have come a long way. They’re a bit of a power couple.”

The Nationalists have steadily increased their support in what is regarded as a Labour heartland and tied at eight seats with their rivals in last week’s elections.

Newly-elected independent Peter de Vink went on to sign a formal deal with the SNP to become part of the administration and the county’s first Green councillor, Ian Baxter, agreed to vote the administration into power but not enter it himself.

Cllr Baxter said today: “I think Midlothian will benefit from a change in administration and hope that with the council now finely balanced, a more consensual approach to politics will result.”