Trams and bins key issues in Leith Walk by-election

Deidre Brock is leaving having been elected to Westminster. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Deidre Brock is leaving having been elected to Westminster. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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TRAM extensions, overflowing bins and the coming of the new St James development are just some of the key issues for voters at tomorrow’s Leith Walk by-election.

Ten political hopefuls will battle it out following the resignation of SNP councillor Deidre Brock and the Greens’ Maggie Chapman.

The main issue for most people on Leith Walk is getting the trams sorted out

John Hein

Ms Brock stood down after becoming an MP in May’s Nationalist landslide, while Ms Chapman is said to be concentrating on her bid to become an MSP next year.

But those eager to take their place can expect to have a lot on their plate. With a population of more than 30,000, the Leith Walk ward is one of the most densely populated in the city.

And talk of expanding the tram line down to Leith has re-ignited old arguments as anger flares at the memory of endless roadworks.

John Hein, chairman of Leith Central Community Council, said uncertainty over the trams was an “awful weight on everybody’s daily life”.

“The main issue for most people on Leith Walk is getting the trams sorted out – or, rather, getting Leith Walk sorted out with or without the trams,” he said. “That’s something that the new councillors will be very much thrown into.”

Elsewhere, Richard Haig, owner of the Black Fox bar on Leith Walk, said businesses in the area faced three main issues – a shake-up of business rates, the extension of the trams and the build-up of public waste.

And while he insisted he was “all for” the trams coming down into Leith, he argued cash support would be needed for struggling businesses throughout future roadworks.

He said: “Litter is a problem. Private waste bins are put away at cost to the business owners while public bins overflow.

“The second thing is business rates in the area are being re-evaluated. If the government wants to see Leith regenerated they need to take a strong look at business rates. They are thinking of raising them and this would be a huge mistake.”

Constituents can cast their vote between 7am and 10pm tomorrow, with the by-election marking the first time a Scottish council has sought to fill more than one vacancy in a ward using the STV system.

Pilmeny Youth Centre, Norton Park Conference Centre, London Road Church Hall, Holy Cross RC Primary School, Ebenezer United Free Church Hall, Royal Navy & Royal Marine Association & Club, Broughton Nursery, Pilrig St Paul’s Church Hall, Lorne Primary School, McDonald Road Library and Leith Walk Primary School will all be open as polling stations.

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk