- Best bits: Introducing Save Broomfield campaigners to Lesley Riddoch for some welcome advice and support on the next stage of their campaign and then getting a shout out on her podcast
- Worst bit: My car making horrid sort of broken noises and needing to go into the garage
- Folk of note: Elise and the team in the national campaign who worked really hard to pull off a great manifesto launch this week!
- Miles travelled: 535
- Things I learned: The minimum wage can be worked around if you employ agency workers from other EU states, so long as you pay them *their* minimum wage – according to the folk building the new waste to energy plant in Dunbar. Needless to say Unite were out in force protesting this week.
The week began at 6.30am at a freezing picket line just along the road from me. Unite (my union) were out in force to protest the decision of local employers building a waste to energy plant to go against agreed terms with the union and employ foreign workers for far less than local workers. The decision goes against promises that the new plant would employ local people, including in the construction phase, and is clearly a violation of the spirit of the minimum wage.
After a quiet morning, I headed over to Kilmarnock to meet the very wonderful Jen and Yvonne and some fab folks running a community rail partnership. The big idea is to involve local people in the railway and the stations, inputting into discussions about train times and the like. In another partnership around the Stranraer line, the partnership produced fantastic walking maps with routes beginning and ending at train stations. A great idea that needs to be replicated across the country.
From Kilmarnock Yvonne and I went to Cumnock to meet with Allan, Jennifer and Peter from the Save Broomfield campaign, fighting to keep their playing fields free from the development of a proposed super school which they believe could go elsewhere. Lesley Riddoch was speaking in Maybole that evening with the local Common Weal group. As she’s always interested in stories of communities fighting the good fight, I invited her over to Allan and Jennifer’s house for a chat! She listened to where the campaign has got to so far and pitched in some great ideas for next steps before heading off for the evening’s event. It was really encouraging to hear that the team were thinking along the right lines and I think it gave everyone a wee boost. You can hear Lesley’s great podcast featuring the campaign here.
After going down to Maybole to hear Lesley’s fantastic talk, I tootled home to Dunbar and bed! Thursday and Friday were quiet, although my car was not. The exhaust was making some pretty sad noises to the extent that I cancelled a trip to Dumfries for, ironically enough, an event about roads and transport routes.
Saturday brought the sunshine and with it, the perfect day for chatting to voters on Dunbar high street and later in North Berwick. Eurig and Isla, fellow list candidates and North Berwick natives joined me for a look at the spot on the beach in North Berwick where the council’s proposing a ridiculous extension of the car park *onto* the beach! Sign the petition here to put a stop to it.
A day of writing followed, with a whole day in the national campaign office on Monday preparing for our manifesto launch on Tuesday. I’m really proud of our manifesto and of all the work that’s gone into crowdsourcing it from members and experts around the country. Find it here.
On Tuesday evening, I met up with Michael Gray from Common Space who’d asked to hang out with me on the campaign trail.
We went to North Berwick where we went along to the local youth group to chat voter registration, exams and how important the space is for young people. There was a point in the car driving to the next event in Haddington where Michael asked “what’s the point of doing visits like that?” I had to pause to find the right words, but said that ultimately it’s about making sure I understand the views, needs and experiences of as many people in the region as possible in order to be able to speak for them in parliament.
The evening was spent in Haddington at a really interesting hustings with the FSB and the local chamber of commerce. I’d been a little nervous beforehand as I wasn’t sure what kind of questions we’d get, but when I read the FSB’s manifesto, I soon realised that we agree with them on pretty much everything they’re asking for. We spent the first hour of the debate discussing broadband and how totally crucial it is for businesses. Luckily, David Walls from Lothian Broadband was on hand in the audience to confirm my arguments that BT’s monopoly in the broadband rollout and their control over the infrastructure is holding back community and smaller providers from reaching homes and businesses that are crying out for connections.
Some great discussions on citizens income, a new enterprise agency for the South and the need for business support for small businesses finished off the night.
This week I’ve had a couple of hustings already (more on that next week) and I’ve got two action days and loads more hustings. Until next time!