SNP councillor faces fight to stand in next year’s elections

Ron Cairns
Ron Cairns
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A SENIOR member of the SNP group on the city council is facing possible de-selection because of claims he has not done enough work.

Councillor Ron Cairns, who is vice-convener of the city’s culture and leisure committee, is being challenged by an activist for the right to stand for the Pentland Hills ward in May’s local elections.

Bill Henderson, a long-serving and active member of the SNP, wants to replace Cllr Cairns as the SNP’s candidate for the ward and there will be a vote of local party members in the coming weeks.

The challenge comes amid concerns about the former Sighthill, Broomhouse and Parkhead community councillor’s record since being elected to the City Chambers in 2007.

Political opponents say that the selection challenge is a sign of the “acrimony and turmoil” within the party in Edinburgh.

But Cllr Cairns today defended his record, saying he does a lot of behind-the-scenes work, and insisted he will fight off the challenge to win the right to stand in May’s elections.

He said: “Someone has given me a challenge, but I hope to stand again there because I have done a lot of good work in the area, but it will be up to [party] members in the area to decide.

“I have worked hard for the last four and a half years and I have done a lot of good things and there are great people to work with so I hope to stand again.”

When asked about criticism of his profile, he said: “I’ve maybe not been in the paper much, but I like to just get on with the work.

“If I get a call from someone I visit them because what you get over on a telephone or e-mail can be different to what you get face-to-face.

“I’m fighting to get back in because there is a lot I want to achieve.”

He said that his achievements during his time in office included successfully campaigning for improvements to the Ratho war memorial and helping to secure improvements to Ratho Primary School and Clovenstone Primary, while he continues to try to get new football pitches for Balerno.

His opponent for selection, Mr Henderson, is an active member of the SNP and was an election agent at the 2010 Westminster parliamentary elections.

Political opponents claim that the selection battle is a sign of wider “acrimony and turmoil” within the SNP group, after the Evening News revealed earlier this week that economic development leader Tom Buchanan may run for the role of group leader after the next elections.

Conservative councillor Jason Rust, who represents the Colinton/Fairmilehead ward that neighbours Cllr Cairns’ Pentland Hills seat, said: “It seems that the acrimony and turmoil in the SNP about who will lead them at the City Chambers is replicated by their divisions at local level.

“Rather than petty infighting, they should get out and listen to local residents, many of whom are not impressed with the way the SNP have been running this city.”

mblackley@edinburghnews.com