Rough sleeper to stand for Liberal Party in election

Irvine McMinn on the campaign trail in Leith Walk
Irvine McMinn on the campaign trail in Leith Walk
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A HOMELESS man from Leith is standing to become a city councillor in the upcoming local government elections.

Irvine McMinn has pledged to push for job development schemes and cut red tape for small businesses if he is elected after polling day on May 3.

The 56-year-old, who has spent years on the streets of Edinburgh, argues that the city council and other authorities have too much involvement in local decision making. Local issues, including how funding for projects, should be decided on by those who live in the area, he argues.

Mr McMinn – who is standing in the Leith Ward for the Liberal Party and has launched a Beggar’s Manifesto – returned from living in France in 2006 and set up a business selling photographs to tourists.

However, he said having to repeatedly apply for street traders’ licences and handle complex regulations was a factor in the collapse of his business.

Mr McMinn said if he is elected he hopes to put help for small businesses and job creation on the political agenda. In his manifesto he states: “I have spent many years travelling in Africa, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, supporting myself as a street entertainer and trader.

“When I eventually returned full-time to Edinburgh, I had some very definite ideas about starting a small business, only to find myself stymied by the uniquely British manner of regulation and bureaucracy.

“If you have an established business, or the resources to develop a clearly defined business model things might be different. However for me, someone with very limited resources, I found that the manner in which permits, regulations and fees were set up, favoured established players.”

The current Liberal Party was formed by members who rejected the original version’s merger with the Social Democrats to become the Lib Dems in 1988. Mr McMinn said he did not want to be typecast as “the homeless candidate” but said his standing would help to show the difficulties in securing employment.

He said he speaks French and some German, and has experience in the hotel trade, but he has not been able to secure work in recent years.

He suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder, and studied mathematical physics at university.

He added: “The Liberals believe the government and local authorities need to provide things like education and health, but in other areas they are far too involved with day-to-day decisions.

“I use the example of someone in my position, who had a potentially viable business but am weighed down by the system. I accept the council has to maintain control but I’m very aware of the constraints local government and councils have on individuals.

“If elected I would push to make it easier for people to create their own jobs. Even if I don’t get elected myself perhaps I can highlight the issues affecting people in my position.”