In the historic City Chambers with the paintings of previous Lord Provosts gracing the walls I was very privileged to be allowed to work.
Although my office was located up a back stair I would occasionally take the main staircase – all ten flights, just because I could. One of the very last engagements I had as a councillor was to show a group of Cubs from Clermiston around the City Chambers. I’m not sure if the eight-year-old Cubs were as impressed as I was by the majestic splendour of that magnificent building. It really is one of Edinburgh’s hidden treasures and I will always value the days I was allowed to walk its corridors.
Politics is a very brutal game which, if I am honest, I was never very good at playing. My approach over the past five years was to get involved in issues that mattered to people locally. It was my purpose, I thought, to defend and resolve individual’s cases and concerns as well as support local groups’ visions and activities.
As a councillor I could reach council officers, pursue outside bodies for answers and ask difficult questions with a bit more authority than an individual resident. It is a sad indictment of our council and other public bodies that sometimes it needs a councillor to get involved before people are listened to. However, that was my business; that was what I did for numerous local groups and individuals and I loved it! They were my people and I cared for them.
Unfortunately my affection for the people of Drumbrae Gyle was not reciprocated as I found out to my cost on May 4. In the end the people of Drumbrae Gyle just didn’t trust me enough. Their loyalty to me certainly did not match my loyalty to them.
I started this journey in response to the previous council closing and demolishing Drumbrae Primary School. I finish with the feeling that in the end people vote for flags and not people; politics isn’t so much about care as it is about ideologies and maybe people really do get the politicians they deserve. Since Thursday I have received hundreds of really lovely messages from shocked residents, friends and colleagues. If Facebook “likes” were votes I would still be a councillor! I will always be grateful that I was afforded the honour to call Drumbrae Gyle my ward, even for a little while.
Karen Keil was a Labour councillor for Drumbrae/Gyle ward