Edinburgh council elections: Lib Dems aim to oust Lord Provost Frank Ross as councillor

Lib Dems are aiming to make history by ousting Lord Provost Frank Ross from his council seat at the local elections in May.

By Ian Swanson
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 11:25 am

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The party is to field two candidates in Corstorphine/Murrayfield, where Councillor Ross was the last of the ward's three councillors to get elected last time.

The Lib Dems claim he is associated with policies which are unpopular in the area and say there is a good chance they can beat him.

Lord Provost Frank Ross is seeking re-election as councillor in Corstorphine/Murrayfield

A party source said: "It's a very real prospect we can defeat Councillor Ross. We understand he would be the first ever Lord Provost to lose his seat in a council election."

Councillor Ross has represented the area since 2012 and was SNP group leader and depute council leader for a year ahead of the last local elections in 2017. When the SNP emerged as the biggest party he was set to become council leader but was defeated for the role at the group's AGM by Adam McVey and accepted the Lord Provostship instead.

He annoyed the group leadership when he failed to support the administration's budget in 2020 because it did not include a commitment of cash for rebuilding Corstorphine community centre destroyed by fire in 2013.

And he had to go through extra vetting before being approved as a candidate for May's elections.

But Lib Dems say despite Councillor Ross's 2020 abstention, the administration's failure to fund the new community centre still counts against him because he backed the SNP budget in 2021 which contained no money for the project while the Lib Dems proposed a budget which included the £750,000 funding needed for the new centre.

They also cite the plans for a controlled parking zone in Corstorphine, which Councillor Ross argued should be implemented without delay and without further consultation after a previous survey which he said found strong support for the move. But the Lib Dems claim the parking controls are “deeply unpopular” and Councillor Ross is “woefuly out of touch with the electorate”.

The party source said: “Frank Ross has taken very unpopular positions locally, he has been seen as not standing up for the community and we're going to be campaigning hard on that track record. I think it gives us a real prospect of defeating the SNP in an area of west Edinburgh which is not natural SNP territory.”

The Lib Dems say they are also boosted by Alex Cole-Hamilton’s success last year when he was re-elected as Edinburgh Western MSP with the biggest vote ever recorded at a Scottish Parliament election.

Gillian Gloyer, the current Lib Dem councillor in the ward, is standing down at the election and hopes to resume her previous work as an international observer of elections.

The two new Lib Dem candidates are Alan Beal, an energy/housing consultant and Edinburgh Street Pastor who lives in the ward, and Euan Davidson, a former social worker who is now an aide to Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine.

At the 2017 council election, Councillor Gloyer and Tory Scott Douglas were elected in the first round of counting and Councillor Ross in round six.

Councillor Ross said his commitment to delivering a community centre was well-known. “I sit as a trustee on Corstorphine Community Centre. I have been involved in that centre since before my councillor days. It’s quite noticeable there’s no Lib Dem representation on that community centre. And I’m actually leading on the community asset transfer of Westfield House on behalf of the community centre and we’re quite well advanced on that.”

He acknowledged there was a lot of resistance in the ward to the proposal put forward by officers for all-day parking charges which he said was “far too draconian”. But he said there was a lot of support, especially in Corstorphine, for parking controls for one or two hours in the middle of the day to stop commuter parking.

Councillor Ross said the SNP had increased its vote in the area at every election since 2012. “I think I’ve done a good job working with the various community councils and the constituents who contact me.”

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