MORE than half of Edinburgh’s Tory councillors are to quit at next year’s elections.
Six out of the current 11 Conservative members will not stand again, adding to the exodus which has already seen a host of big names across all parties announce they will be leaving the City Chambers.
Dominic Heslop, councillor for Pentland Hills, and Lindsay Paterson, who represents Almond ward, both said they had decided to step down after completing one term on the council.
And Elaine Aitken, councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead, has told colleagues she will also be leaving after 13 years’ service.
It was already known that Corstorphine/Murrayfield councillor Jeremy Balfour would be quitting after he was elected a Lothian MSP in May and that Mark McInnes would not be seeking re-election in Meadows/Morningside after becoming a peer in David Cameron’s resignation honours.
And longest-serving Tory councillor Allan Jackson announced in August that he was calling time on his 40-year political career.
Cllr Heslop, who used to work as an aide to MSPs, said he was now looking for a job outside politics and employers were reluctant to take on people who would need time off for council work.
But he added: “As we enter next year’s local government elections, I do believe Edinburgh Conservatives need to be visionary and forward looking. At a time of immense pressures on local government, we need experienced, collegiate and constructive leadership. Sometimes I have failed to see that.
“Despite never being offered a spokesmanship by the group leadership, I have served on planning and regulatory, two of the most time consuming committees for the past five years, and I represent an extensive rural ward.
“It has been a privilege to represent such a beautiful area.
“I will remain a member of my party and the Conservative group on the council and I look forward to assisting in whatever way I can in the months ahead.”
Cllr Paterson, who is the Tory group’s culture spokeswoman, said she had decided to step down because of family and work pressures. “I feel I have been spreading myself a bit too thinly.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the council and I’m looking forward to supporting the next Almond candidate for the Conservatives. I’ll be out on the campaign trail soon. Maybe I will return in the future.”
Cllr Aitken, one of the council’s five bailies appointed to help the Lord Provost, has been a councillor since 2003 and was involved with local campaigns on numerous planning issues.
The Tories announced after the Holyrood elections in May that they aimed to build on the party’s success there and become the largest party on the city council next year.