By-election hopefuls face grilling over tram scheme

Share this article

CANDIDATES in the first Edinburgh by-election for two years were today hitting the streets for the last day of campaigning - with views on the tram project expected to strongly influence the result.

The 24,000 people that live in the Liberton/Gilmerton ward get the chance to elect their new local councillor tomorrow, following the resignation of Labour councillor Ian Murray.

And campaigning candidates say the tram project, as well as localised antisocial behaviour problems, have been the main issues on the doorstep

Labour had the biggest combined share of the vote at the 2007 council elections and its candidate, chartered engineer Bill Cook, is thought to be in a two-way battle with the SNP's candidate, Richard Lewis.

Mr Cook, 55, intends to play on the "mismanagement" of the tram project rather than the project itself.

He said: "There is a feeling that the council is not in charge. People are appalled at the mismanagement of trams."

He also claims to have seen a "collapse of the SNP vote" as a result of its stance at the Scottish Parliament on ending short-term jail sentences, as well as the "Megrahi effect".

In 2007, SNP councillor Tom Buchanan won the biggest individual share of the vote, with 26 per cent of the first preference votes. Mr Lewis, 39, a music conductor, said: "Trams is amongst the least popular (projects) for voters so the fact that we're the only group to vote against it could work in our favour."

Former Radio Scotland political reporter John Knox, 60, said that, as the Liberal Democrat candidate, he has felt the wrath of voters not only for trams but also for entering a coalition with the Conservatives at Westminster.

He said: "A lot of people don't like the trams. I'm trying to say that, in the long run, we need the trams because buses are at their capacity. The poor old Liberals seem to have got the blame for it, even although Labour started it off."

Independent Mr Brown, 49, said he was the only true "anti-tram" campaigner. "People are pleased to see someone representing their interests, they're happy to hear from someone wanting to represent their views, not tow the party line."

Tory candidate Stephanie Murray, 23, said a key issue among local voters was preserving the greenbelt.

The full list of candidates

Mev Brown Independent

Bill Cook Scottish Labour Party

Colin Fox Scottish Socialist Party

Philip Hunt Pirate Party Scotland

John Christopher Knox Scottish Lib Dems

Richard Lewis Scottish National Party

Peter McColl Scottish Green Party

Stephanie Murray Scottish Conservative & Unionist

Back to the top of the page