Edinburgh's Tory group leader switches wards for May elections
Edinburgh's Tory group leader Iain Whyte is switching areas at the council elections in May, standing down in Inverleith ward which he has represented since 2007 and hoping to get elected in Craigentinny/Duddingston instead.
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He said the move was because he lives on the edge of Craigentinny/Duddingston and found it harder during the pandemic to maintain his connection with another part of the city.
The switch comes as another Tory councillor said he would not be seeking re-election in May. Finance spokesman Andrew Johnston, who was elected in Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart in 2017, said his decision was due to family commitments.
It means eight out of the Tories' 17 current councillors are standing down.
Councillor Whyte said he was looking forward to a new challenge.
"I've found it quite difficult during the pandemic, with not going out and online meetings, to feel as close to the ward and the community, and I live just on the edge of Craigentinny/Duddingston and I thought it was worth a go to try somewhere more local.
"I'm in the area quite a lot just naturally so it seemed a chance to try something different nearer home."
He said he had previously lived in Willowbrae, which is part of the ward, and his daughter and grandson live in Duddingston.
First elected in 1995, Councillor Whyte said he had represented some parts of Inverleith ward, particularly Drylaw and Craigleith, going back more than 20 years.
"In some ways it is a wrench to leave after a long time."
But he said his fellow Inverleith Tory councillor, Max Mitchell, lived in the ward and was well connected locally. "He is doing a good job, so I know I'm leaving things in safe hands."
He said while it was up to the electorate, he was "pretty confident" he could win one of the four seats in Craigentinny/Duddingston. The party’s share of the vote in a by-election there in 2020 had suggested its support was strong enough for that.
And he said the ward's current Tory councillor John McLellan, who is standing down, had put a lot of hard work into the area. "I want to take on the same issues he has been working on."
He cited the controversial plans for parking controls in parts of the ward despite protests. “There are key issues where I know we are on the side of the local residents.”
Also changing wards is Phil Doggart, who was elected as one of two Tory councillors in Colinton/Fairmilehead in 2017, but will now stand in the next-door ward of Liberton/Gilmerton, hoping to be elected in place of fellow Tory Stephanie Smith, who is standing down after having a baby.
The party has chosen Neil Cuthbert, who works in public affairs, as its new candidate in Colinton/Fairmilehead.
Standing in place of Councillor Johnston in Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart will be Christopher Cowdy.
Other Tory candidates named so far include Timothy Jones in Portobello/Craigmillar, where Callum Laidlaw is standing down; Hugh Findlay in Corstorphine/Murrayfield, where Scott Douglas is not seeking re-election; and Mark Hooley in Sighthill/Gorgie, where Ashley Graczyk left the Tories to sit as an independent in 2018.