Foodbank worker Labour’s candidate for Leith Walk

Labour's Marion Donaldson has the chance to be elected for the council's Leith Walk ward. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Labour's Marion Donaldson has the chance to be elected for the council's Leith Walk ward. Picture: Gordon Fraser

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A MOTHER-OF-THREE who helps run a foodbank has been chosen as Labour’s candidate for a key council by-election.

Voters in Leith Walk ward will be asked to elect two new councillors on September 10 following the resignation of the SNP’s Deidre Brock, who became MP for Edinburgh North and Leith at the General Election and Green Maggie Chapman, who is bidding to become an MSP in next year’s Holyrood elections.

Labour’s candidate will be Marion Donaldson, 51, who has been a member of Leith Central Community Council for the past two years.

She is a team leader with Edinburgh City Mission’s Basics Bank, which has a 
network of foodbanks across the Capital.

“I have witnessed first hand the issues that affect our community,” she said.

“I meet people from all walks of life who are being impacted by Government welfare policies. They are broken and humiliated by their circumstances.

“People with very little money are having their dignity removed by the so-called ‘sanctions’ brought in by the Tory Government. These have a severe and personal impact on the poorest families and the poorest children. It’s these families local food banks try and help.’”

She has been volunteering with the foodbanks for a couple of years, starting at the one in Pilrig Street, then helping set up a new one in Newington and soon expecting to return to the Leith one.

Council hopes of extending the tram line down Leith Walk are expected to be a central issue in the by-election.

Ms Donaldson, who lives off Leith Walk with engineer husband Brian, said there were two sides to the argument.

“I’m aware the community has different views on it,” she said. “There would be economic benefits to the area and the city, but I’m also aware people in the community have been impacted by what happened before.”

Ms Donaldson, who is a qualified pharmacist and has three student children, joined the Labour Party after taking part in an Opening Doors to Democracy programme which saw her shadow politicians at Westminster, Holyrood and the City Chambers.

She praised the record of the current council administration in doubling investment in roads and pavements, helping get young people into employment and introducing a £7.50 per hour Living Wage for all council employees.

“If elected, I will work tirelessly to represent the people of our area.”

The by-election will use the Single Transferable Vote system, where voters rank candidates in 1, 2 3, etc in order of preference.

Labour won two of the four seats in the ward at the last council elections in 2012, with 27.4 per cent of first-preference votes, while the SNP and Greens won one each with 22.6 and 15.6 per cent.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com