New broom may sweep city centre roads clean - Kevin Buckle

By the time this column appears we will know the make-up of the newly elected City of Edinburgh Council but as I write this the polls have only just closed.

By Kevin Buckle
Saturday, 7th May 2022, 7:00 am
Claire Miller is the Green Candidate for Edinburgh City Centre Ward in May’s council’s election.
Claire Miller is the Green Candidate for Edinburgh City Centre Ward in May’s council’s election.

This paper gave an excellent run down on all those standing and their backgrounds along with previous results and those standing down.

What came as no surprise was that the jobs candidates held were not as varied as you might hope and very few could be called business people, even in the loosest sense of the word.

There is a very obvious reason for this in that running a business, even if it employs many staff, is normally a very hands-on affair for the owner who has no time to also be a councillor.

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Joanna Mowat is Conservative councillor for City Centre Ward

It is also true to say there are not many professionals, again because their jobs do not lean towards accommodating being a councillor.

Certainly the reasons for becoming a councillor seem to have changed dramatically over the decades. My dad, Ronald Buckle, was a labour councillor in Liverpool and his motives were very locally based.

We lived with our grandad in a council house, so most of the nearby residents were a generation older than my parents.

When older neighbours needed help with something they would come to my dad, often to do with a problem with their house.

The council works department had a base not far from us, so my dad would go and chase them up about windows being fixed or ill-fitting doors and all the other minor issues that can go wrong with a house and aren’t at the top of any council fix list.

When it came to the area needing a councillor my dad just seemed an obvious choice. Later on he would be asked to represent his fellow workers as their APEX (Association of Professional Executives) union rep and eventually he was asked to become a Justice of the Peace.

All these positions he never actively sought and he managed to hold while working for Plessey, the electronics company.

While a councillor he was deputy chairman of the highways and byways and was a great believer in the need to get potholes fixed, when there were, at the time, greater schemes for by-passes that grabbed all the attention.

Never has it been clearer in these post-pandemic times that there are many serious decisions that need to be made to restore the economy to any kind of health and it has to be said that if you were picking a team to do this in Edinburgh you would not rely on the skillsets of most of the candidates for the council.

Of course there are many other important areas including planning and while council officials are meant to guide councillors there is not great confidence in that process.

In the city centre Jo Mowat for the Conservatives and Claire Miller for the Greens are expected to return and both are very active, so it is to be hoped that the two new councillors elected hit the floor running in dealing with the city centre’s many issues.