Community Councillor Takes a Stand
Xander McDade(18), a member of Pitlochry and Moulin Community Council, has announced that he will be standing as an Independent candidate for the Highland Ward in the elections to Perth and Kinross Council on the 3rd May.
Xander said “Since resigning from the Scottish Conservative Party, I have been encouraged by a number of local residents to stand for the council to provide an Independent voice to represent the area. I am concerned that our local councillors are all affiliated to political parties, which can find councillors taking decisions that are in their parties’ interests rather than their constituents, whilst as an Independent Councillor I would only have to worry about and answer to my constituents.”
On resigning from the Scottish Conservatives, Xander commented “The new Scottish Leader was the final straw for me, as she was clearly set on opposing more devolution to Scotland – which is something I believe in fully and feel needs to go further .This was why I supported Murdo Fraser’s bid to be leader as he would have led a change in the party’s policy – in favour of more powers for Holyrood. I believe that the Scottish Government should be in charge of raising its budget, as well as spending it.”
Regarding the advantages of being Independent, Xander commented “I feel that all councillors should be independent of party affiliation as at such a local level councillors should put the views and interests of the community and people they represent first. Independents are very often the strongest advocates for their constituents as they are not bound by having to toe a party line. I would also look to work with other prospective Independent councillors such as Nathan Shields (City Centre Ward candidate) and potentially form a group with other Independents – as has happened in Highland Council.”
Regarding the planning proposal for Pitlochry town centre he said “The centre of Pitlochry is key to its prosperity. Many tourists come for its traditional Victorian charm-you cannot walk down the high street without seeing a tourist taking a picture. The current proposals would seriously detract from the Victorian feel, proposes a hotel and shops when we already have empty shops that are struggling to find tenants. Planning concerns are one of my reasons for putting myself forward as Highland Perthshire needs to make its voice heard.”
Regarding the Birks proposed hydro scheme in Aberfeldy, Xander commented “I oppose this as it seems ridiculous to me that a community asset should be handed over to a landowner to make large amounts of profit from. I am also very concerned about the environmental impacts such a project could cause on the waterfall itself and the impact this could have on tourism.”
On housing and education, Xander said, “I have some quite radical ideas. I believe that the council should be building new council houses across Perth and Kinross, as well as building truly affordable housing of a high standard which the council can sell on at a small profit reinvesting in the housing stock. All developments should be of a high quality both in design and build including greater levels of insulation and in keeping with local styles.
“On education, having had quite recent experience of both secondary schools in Highland Perthshire, I think that Pitlochry must retain a Secondary School but that there is a lot of scope for improved collaboration between the schools in Highland Perthshire. This could even include classes being delivered by Video Conferencing (VC) of certain subjects that are currently not offered, so as to give students greater choice and encourage more to stay in education.”
On the local economy, Xander said, “I think one straight-forward way of helping the local economy would be for business rates to be reduced, to help our struggling high streets. Also public transport is vital to a rural economy and the council should not be allowed to cut bus services or subsidy of them. The council should fight for improved infrastructure – badly needed in rural areas as this is a key reason for a lack of new investment.” When asked about the state of democracy in Perth and Kinross he commented “As a student of History and Politics (at UHI Perth) I have studied other countries’ governance and it has become clear to me that we have a very centralised system of governance compared with other European nations such as Norway. I would like to see Scotland move to more localised decision making. I think this issue is t clearly seen when bad planning decisions have been taken against the wishes of the majority who live near it, by people who don’t live in or know the area..”
To contact The Campaign to Elect Xander McDade for Highland Perthshire –9 Lettoch Terrace, Pitlochry, Perthshire, PH16 5BA
(Released to the press on 9th March 2012)