Green councillor gives Midlothian first non-Labour administration

Ian Baxter
Ian Baxter
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Midlothian’s new Green councillor has put the SNP into power in the county’s first ever non-Labour administration.

In return, the Nationalists have agreed to look at a series of Green policies on travel, renewable energy, empty homes and road safety.

The SNP and Labour each won eight seats in the election. Newly-elected independent Peter de Vink quickly ruled out working with Labour and went on to sign a formal deal with the SNP to become part of the administration.

But it all depended on the only other councillor, Green Ian Baxter. If he had sided with Labour, the decision on who controls the council could have gone to a cut of the cards.

A meeting of the Greens’ local branch backed Cllr Baxter in his plan to help the SNP take power.

He decided against joining a formal coalition, but has promised to vote for the SNP’s choice of council leader and Provost. Cllr Baxter said today: “The voters of Midlothian sent a clear message that they wanted change. 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.

“I have asked the SNP group to look at areas which have been neglected in the past, like encouraging Active and Sustainable Travel as well as progressing common areas of policy like the provision of community based renewable energy, bringing empty housing back into use and road safety issues which concern us all”.

The new administration is likely to be lead by Lisa Beattie, who will become the first female council leader in Midlothian if she is formally confirmed next week.

The 59-year-old, who is married to the Nationalist Midlothian MSP Colin Beattie, told the Evening News today: “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.

“I am also very pleased to be the first female leader of this council. People speak a lot about the gender deficit in politics so hopefully this will enable other women to get involved.

“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 comes it’s the most vulnerable who are left behind - that will not be allowed to happen here.”