Two weeks to go to crucial Capital election

There are just 2 weeks until the council election. Picture; stock image
There are just 2 weeks until the council election. Picture; stock image
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A fortnight today, voters go to the polls with the politicians’ futures in their hands.

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The choice of councillors will help decide who runs the city for the next five years. Ian Swanson completes our look at the Edinburgh battlegrounds and how the political map might look after May 4

Leith

2012: Gordon Munro (Lab) Chas Booth (Green) Adam McVey (SNP)

CANDIDATES

Chas Booth (Green)

Sanne Dijkstra-Downie (Lib Dem)

Adam McVey (SNP)

Gordon John Munro (Lab)

Paul Penman (Con)

LABOUR and the SNP finished almost dead even here last time, both polling just over 32 per cent of the vote.

But while Labour fielded only one candidate, long-serving councillor Gordon Munro, the SNP put up two.

It was a gamble to try and get a second seat.

The result was former Deputy Lord Provost Rob Munn failed to get re-elected, but newcomer Adam McVey did win a seat. The outcome was attributed by some to the “alphabet effect” of the Single Transferable Vote system, where the candidate whose name comes first on the ballot paper often polls more votes than a party colleague lower down the list.

Cllr McVey, now seeking re-election, is seen as one of the rising stars of the SNP group and has served as deputy transport and environment convener in the Labour-SNP coalition.

Cllr Munro, who has been vice convener of the economy committee, is standing again for Labour, as is Green Chas Booth, who successfully ousted the Lib Dems last time.

All three of the sitting councillors are said to be well-liked in the ward and are likely to be

re-elected.

(3 councillors)

Southside/ Newington

2012: Steve Burgess (Green) Ian Perry (Lab) Jim Orr (SNP) Cameron Rose (Con)

CANDIDATES

Steve Burgess (Green)

Alison Dickie (SNP)

Dan Farthing (Lib Dem)

Ian Perry (Lab)

Cameron Rose (Con) ONLY five candidates are competing for four seats here, making it the ward with the least competition in the city.

Three out of four of the sitting councillors are seeking re-election.

And although the Lib Dems name this as one of their targets, it would be a surprise if any of the other parties were to lose a seat.

Steve Burgess is the Green group’s leader and topped the poll last time with 20 per cent of the votes.

Cameron Rose is Tory group leader.

And Ian Perry is one of Labour’s longest-serving councillors and also convener of planning. And with Labour group leader Andrew Burns standing down at the election he could be the one to take over the helm.

Jim Orr, who was elected for the SNP in 2012 and served as transport vice-convener, with a special remit to champion cycling, resigned the party whip two years later, complaining of “too many internal spats”.

New SNP candidate is Alison Dickie, a teacher and former Scottish Parliament official who stood for election to Holyrood in Edinburgh Central last year but lost to the Tories’ Ruth Davidson.

(4 councillors)

Liberton

2012: Norma Austin Hart (Lab) Bill Cook (Lab) Tom Buchanan (SNP) Nick Cook (Con)

2013 by-election: Keith Robson (Lab)

CANDIDATES

Lezley Marion Cameron (Lab)

Derek Howie (SNP)

John Christopher Knox (Lib Dem)

Lesley MacInnes (SNP)

John Nichol (Green)

Tim Pogson (Lab)

Stephanie Smith (Con)

WHOEVER wins, it’s going to be a new set of councillors representing this ward after May 4.

None of the four sitting councillors is seeking re-election here.

Labour’s Norma Austin Hart is standing down to spend more time with her grandchildren. Colleague Keith Robson – elected in a by-election following the death of senior SNP councillor Tom Buchanan – is quitting because of his new top post with charity Age Scotland. And Labour councillor Bill Cook, who was vice-convener of finance, is also stepping down.

Meanwhile Tory Nick Cook has switched wards to stand in Morningside at this election.

Labour is fielding two candidates – Lezley Cameron, who is a former councillor for Alnwickhill – now part of this ward – and is bidding to make a comeback, and housing charity worker Tim Pogson.

The SNP also has two candidates – social worker Derek Howie, who fought the by-election and is registered blind, and Lesley MacInnes, former manager of an international organisation.The Tories scored a surprise win here in 2012. Their candidate this time is Stephanie Smith, who has stood in the ward twice before – in the 2010 and 2013 by-elections.

The Nationalists are tipped to emerge with two seats here, and Labour and the Conservatives with one each.

(4 councillors)

Craigentinny/Duddingston

2012: Stefan Tymkewycz (SNP) Joan Griffiths (Lab)Alex Lunn (Lab)

CANDIDATES

Ian Campbell (SNP)

Joan Griffiths (Lab)

Patrick Hadfield (Lib Dem)

Alex Lunn (SNP)

Lyndsay Martin (Lab)

John McLellan (Con)

Alex Staniforth (Green)

Mridul Wadhwa (SNP)

LABOUR won two of the three seats available here last time – though it was a close fight with the SNP for the second one.

And Labour’s victor, Alex Lunn, later defected to the Nationalists.

Now the ward has been given a fourth seat and a fresh battle is under way.

Cllr Lunn, who has been vice-convener of planning, is standing again for the SNP. But Stefan Tymkewycz, who topped the poll last time, is stepping down.

The Nationalists are fielding three candidates, but the selection process was controversial with the party’s national executive overruling a vote by local members to deselect Cllr Lunn. The two other candidates who were due to stand then resigned and the party recruited two new hopefuls – Ian Campbell, founder of a charity working in Eastern and Central Europe, and Mridul Wadhwa, who works for Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre.

Labour’s Joan Griffiths, who has been city housing convener, is standing again. She was first elected to the council five years ago, but was a well-known community activist in the area for many years before that.

She is joined on the ballot paper by local campaigner Lyndsay Martin – daughter of former Labour councillor Paul Nolan – who set up a support group for Syrian refugees coming to Edinburgh.

But the Tories believe they have a strong chance of winning the extra seat with their candidate, former Evening News editor John McLellan.

The Tory vote in the ward is said to have doubled between the 2011 and 2016 Holyrood elections.

Mr McLellan had two spells editing the News – from 1997 until 2002 and from 2004 until 2009 – and also served as editor of Scotland on Sunday and The Scotsman before becoming director of communications for the Scottish Conservatives in 2012. The following year he moved to be director of the Scottish Newspaper Society.

(4 councillors)

2012: Maureen Child (Lab) Mike Bridgman (SNP) David Walker (Lab)

CANDIDATES

Mike Bridgman (SNP)

Kate Campbell (SNP)

Mary Campbell (Green)

Maureen Child (Lab)

Callum Laidlaw (Con)

Callum Leslie (Lib Dem)

David Walker (Lab)

LABOUR’S Maureen Child came top of the poll here last time with over 36 per cent of the vote.

Nationalist Mike Bridgman was elected with 20 per cent. And third place was a battle between Labour and the SNP, which Labour’s David Walker won in the end.

All three councillors are standing again and this time there is also a fourth seat to fill.

Cllr Child, who is convener of the council’s communities and neighbourhoods committee, can count on being re-elected for Labour.

But if the national polls are a fair reflection of voting intentions at local level, it may be more difficult for Cllr Walker to get back as well.

The SNP seems confident of taking one of Labour’s seats, getting new candidate Kate Campbell, who works for Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard, elected along with Cllr Bridgman, who has been on the council for ten years and was convener of Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service and is now convener of the council’s regulatory committee.

The Greens – the third-placed party last time, though with only 8.5 per cent of the vote – have high hopes that their candidate Mary Campbell could win a seat.

She is a community activist who has been heavily involved in the

Action Porty plans

for a community

buy-out of the

former Portobello Old Parish Church and Halls.

(4 councillors)

Picture: Ian Rutherford

activist: Green candidate Mary Campbell has been heavily involved in the Action Porty plans