It’s exactly one month to go until the General Election – who is standing in Linlithgow and East Falkirk?

With exactly one month to go until the General Election, we take a closer look at the Linlithgow and East Falkirk Seat. The SNP, Green Party, Labour Party, Conservative and Lib Dem Candidates have all been named, whilst the Brexit party candidate is either still to be made public, or will not stand. On current polling, Linlithgow and East Falkirk should be considered a safe SNP seat with the Electoral Calculus Ltd calculating the probability that Martyn Day will be returned as MP at 68%, with a predicted majority of 16.5%. SNP – Martyn Day – Sitting MP Born in Falkirk, Martyn Day was brought up in Linlithgow and attended Linlithgow Academy. Prior to his political career, he worked for the Bank of Scotland as a personal banking manager. Day was selected to contest the Linlithgow and East Falkirk constituency at the 2015 UK general election in which he defeated the sitting Labour MP, Michael Connarty. He received 32,055 votes and a 52.0% share of the vote. He retained his seat at the 2017 snap election; albeit with a reduced majority of 2,919 votes. Whilst current polling suggests Day will increase his majority, there are challenges to overcome. Firstly, unlike in the 2017 General Election, the Green Party is standing. He will look to heavily squeeze this vote, but may lose a few hundred ‘hard’ green voters who previously voted SNP. Secondly, if the Brexit Party do not stand, the pro-Brexit vote will not split and will benefit the Conservative share of the vote. However, given West Lothian voted 58.3% remain, he should in theory benefit from tactical remain voting. Despite the challenges to overcome, there are good reasons why Day could increase his majority. The relatively contentious choice of Labour candidate could well benefit the SNP, and Lib Dem voters not wanting to bring in a Conservative government could also tactically vote SNP. Green Party – Gillian Mackay Gillian is Co-Convenor of the Scottish Young Greens and is a Marine Biologist. She played a key role in the Lothian 2016 Holyrood campaign which saw two Green MSPs returned to Holyrood. She is now based in the Scottish Parliament working as part of the Scottish Green MSPs’ team. However, with no Green candidate standing in the seat at the 2017 election and no current Green councillors on either Falkirk or West Lothian Council, it will be an uphill struggle for Mackay to retain her deposit. The Labour Party – Wendy Milne Wendy Milne was selected as the Labour candidate in July last year. Upon selection she stated, “I am currently the chairperson of Linlithgow Constituency Labour Party and I was encouraged and supported to put myself forward for selection by local members.” A Scottish Labour spokesman at the time added: “Wendy Milne has been an active member of the Labour Party for over twelve years, having re-joined in 2006.” For some though, Wendy Milne has been a controversial choice of candidate. In 1990 Wendy Milne was one of those purged from the Labour party as part of Neil Kinnock’s  clearing out Militant, and in 2001 she went on to stand as the Scottish Socialist candidate in Livingston against then Labour MP Robin Cook. Liberal Democrats – Sally Pattle Convener of the West Lothian Liberal Democrats, Sally Pattle runs Far From The Madding Crowd, Linlithgow’s award-winning bookshop. She has previously been a candidate for the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the local council elections and the snap general election in 2017, where she secured 3.4% of the vote. The Lib Dems will be hoping to increase their vote share in the seat, but any new voters might be counter-balanced by previous voters switching allegiance to tactically vote for SNP or Labour, and to the Greens. The Conservative Party – Charles Kennedy Charles Kennedy was raised and educated in West Lothian. He has been a resident of Bathgate for 20 years where he is currently a local councillor. For over 40 years has been employed within the construction industry as a Quantity Surveyor/Commercial Manager. He led the West Lothian Better Together campaign during the 2014 referendum. He stood as Conservative Candidate at the 2017 election where he secured third place with 29.1% of the vote. On current polling, the Conservatives might perform relatively well and push Labour into second place, though much will depend on whether the Brexit party chooses to stand a candidate in the seat. Brexit Party – Not known

Winchburgh Calendar launches to raise funds for volunteering charity

A Winchburgh calendar has been launched to raise funds for the Project Trust. It features well-known Winchburgh scenes and landmarks and all photos were taken by local artists. The calendar sells for £8 and is available from the Tally Ho pub or Brodie’s Bistro. Alternatively, copies can be ordered through the Winchburgh Calendar Facebook page. All monies raised will go towards The Project Trust, an organisation which has provided gap year volunteering opportunities for 17-19 year old school leavers. There have been over 7000 Project Trust volunteers since 1967. One such volunteer next summer will be Winchburgh resident Rosie Scotland, who will be a Project Trust volunteer in India.


West Lothian schools score well in Scottish League Table results

Every school in Scotland has been ranked from best to worst – and it’s relatively good news if you live in West Lothian.

Performance levels of pupils across the country have been graded in a league table, based on the percentage of schoolkids gaining five or more highers. Figures, published by The Times, sees Glasgow’s Jordanhill Secondary School top the chart, as 83 percent of pupils attained five or more awards at SCQF Level 6, the equivalent of highers. Top of the class in West Lothian was Linlithgow Academy, which came in 24th place, with 56% of pupils attaining 5 of more awards at SCQF Level 6. At the bottom of the league, Northfield Academy in Aberdeen saw just seven per cent of pupils walk away with five SCQF Level 6 awards. It was closely followed by Lochend Community High School in Glasgow and Edinburgh’s Wester Hailes Education Centre which scored eight per cent each. Out of a total of 339 Scottish schools ranked, West Lothian’s 11 schools had an average ranking of 110, compared to a national average of 169.5. 24 Linlithgow Academy, West Lothian (56%) 54 St Margaret’s Academy, West Lothian (47%) 55 West Calder High School, West Lothian (47%) 80 Broxburn Academy, West Lothian (44%) 85 The James Young High School, West Lothian (43%) 105 St Kentigern’s Academy, West Lothian (40%) 117 Inveralmond Community High School, West Lothian (39%) 133 Whitburn Academy, West Lothian (37%) 174 Deans Community High School, West Lothian (33%) 185 Armadale Academy, West Lothian (32%) 200 Bathgate Academy, West Lothian (31%)

Labour Candidate found for Livingston seat and SNP’s Hannah Bardell helps kick off SNP campaign on Sky News

A Labour Party candidate has finally been found to contest the Livingston seat after the original candidate Rhea Wolfson quit in July. The candidate selected is Caitlin Kane. Her Labour Policy Forum biography states that she is currently Almond Valley CLP’s campaigns coordinator and is a Communications Officer for Neil Findlay MSP. She states in her bio that she is ‘a proud socialist and trade unionist with a keen interest in the provision of housing and sustainable communities to address the housing crisis inflicted upon us by years of austerity.’ Meanwhile, the SNP launched their campaign today in Edinburgh. Seat favourite Hannah Bardell spoke to Sky News about the launch of the campaign and put her views forward as to why devolution isn’t good enough when the Conservatives ‘risk the NHS’.  

Winchburgh Mum raises concerns about surface water on Kirkliston road

Amy, a single parent from Winchburgh, has raised concerns to us about excessive surface water on the B9080 between Kirkliston and Winchburgh. It is understood the problem is particularly acute where the road crosses Swin Burn. Amy stated, “This time of year is really bad, and after any heavy downpour I dread driving down that road. By the time I pick my kids up from Kirkliston it’s already dark and the huge puddles are really difficult to see. If a bus or lorry is passing on the other side, you get hit by a wall of water which can be really scary for me and my kids. I have tried complaining to our local councillor but have not heard anything back from him.” The section of the road with surface water issues is understood to be in the Edinburgh Council area. The AA advise that you should drive slowly and steadily through standing water so you don’t make a bow wave, and not to drive into flood water that’s moving or more than 10cm deep. At faster speeds, tyres can lose contact with the road, causing you to lose steering control – called aquaplaning. If you feel it happening, hold the steering lightly and lift off to slow down gently until your tyres grip again.      

Candidates step forward to contest Livingston seat

The first contenders for the Livingston Constituency have been announced for the next UK general election which is due to be held on December 12th. The SNP, Green Party, Conservative and Lib Dem Candidates have all been named, whilst the Labour and Brexit party candidates are either still to be found or be made public. On current polling, Livingston should be considered a safe SNP seat with the Electoral Calculus Ltd calculating the probability that Hannah Bardell will be returned as MP at 76%. SNP – Hannah Bardell – Sitting MP Hannah Bardell has successfully contested the seat at two previous general elections, and is defending a majority of 3,878. Hannah was born and brought up in Craigshill, Livingston and attended Broxburn Academy and the University of Stirling. Prior to becoming an MP, Bardell worked for STV and GMTV as well as press and marketing roles for the US State Department, and then in the oil and gas sector. Currently SNP spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at Westminster, Hannah has championed numerous causes at Westminster and back home in West Lothian. These include promoting the idea of Small Business Commissioner for Scotland; campaigning for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority (IANA); improving the justice and support systems for the loved ones of UK citizens who die abroad; trying to get the Government to re-think the timing of its decision about the state pension age for women (the WASPI campaign); ensuring the current inquiry into Primodos (dubbed the ‘forgotten thalidomide’) is open; and campaigning for the equality of women’s and LGBTI rights, especially in the workplace. Green Party – Cameron Glasgow The Green Party face an uphill struggle in West Lothian as they neither contested the Livingston seat at the last election nor have local councillors. Their candidate, Cameron Glasgow, is described on the Green Party’s website as a leading campaigner in West Lothian on issues regarding, “the climate emergency and the right wing popularism which has fuelled Brexit.” He is also convenor of the West Lothian Greens.   The Conservative Party – Damian Timson Damian Timson is the elected councillor for East Livingston and Calder and is the Chairman of the West Lothian Conservative and Unionist Association. Following service in the Royal Air Force, Timson  has worked in Business and Project Management. He currently lives and works in Livingston. At the last election in 2017, he was the Conservative candidate for the constituency and increased vote share by 14.1% for the party with a total of 12,799 votes. His main challenge this time round might be to maintain this share of the vote, should the Brexit party decide to stand. Liberal Democrats – Charles Dundas Charles Dundas has been the Lib Dem candidate for Livingston since 2005. At the 2017 election Dundas increased the Lib Dem vote by 0.7% to 1512 votes (2.9% of votes cast). Brought up in Fauldhouse within the constituency since 1980, he went to Falla Hill Primary School and then on to Whitburn Academy. Dundas currently works in advocacy and policy for a national environmental charity. He is currently a trustee of Scottish Environment Link, the forum for Scotland’s environmental NGOs, and is a former trustee of the Royal Lyceum Theatre. Labour Party – Not Known Labour did have a candidate for the seat (Rhea Wolfson) but she quit in July this year to concentrate on her day job as GMB Scotland organiser. Brexit Party – Not known      


Huge new 78-acre park takes shape in Winchburgh

A huge new park, almost twice the size of Green Park in London, is starting to take shape in Winchburgh. Auldcathie Park will provide a large area of green space to the west of the new Bellway housing development, and surrounding a planned new school. The first phase of the park is scheduled to open in spring 2021. An estimated 31,000 trees will be planted, providing a number of woodland walks as well as extensive areas of new wildlife habitat. The first 420 trees, donated by the local Winchburgh Community Growing Group through the Woodland Trust, will be planted this winter. A café with public toilets will be located in the centre of the park, with community growing areas and orchards nearby. Other areas planned include sensory play and large natural play areas, an enclosed dog park, a 2.5-kilometre loop of accessible paths, as well as mountain bike and fitness trails. John Hamilton, CEO, Winchburgh Developments Limited stated to the media in August, “The new Auldcathie District Park is an integral part of the Winchburgh masterplan, spanning an impressive 78 acres and providing the local Winchburgh community and the wider a region with a new green space to come and enjoy. The response from the Winchburgh community to this project has been fantastic, and we’ve very much valued their ideas and design input which we’ve incorporated into the final plan for the park.”  

West Lothian Council seeks feedback on its Gaelic Language Plan

West Lothian Council has prepared a draft Gaelic Language Plan and is seeking the views of local people. The draft plan aims to enhance the status of Gaelic, promote the learning of Gaelic and also encourage its use locally. West Lothian Council has a statutory duty to implement a Gaelic Language Plan, similar to all other council areas within Scotland, within the framework of the national Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. The draft Gaelic Language Plan sets out how the council will use Gaelic in the operation of its functions, how the council will enable the use of Gaelic when communicating with the public, and how they will promote and develop Gaelic. According to a survey of the council’s own 947 workforce in April this year, 9.8% spoke Gaelic to varying degrees of fluency, and the Plan includes proposals to include learning opportunities for the 437 staff members who expressed an interest in learning the language. The Plan also includes proposals for adult learners as well as plans to increase the visibility of the Gaelic language throughout West Lothian such as in road signage. Graham Hope, Chief Executive of West Lothian Council, stated, ”This is an opportunity to positively and incrementally grow the use of the language in West Lothian in a way that is proportionate. The council will develop an approach which supports and responds positively to this heritage and demographic. This will include proposals to enhance the status of Gaelic across the area and promote the acquisition and learning of the language as well as encourage its increased use.” The consultation is open until 20 November