Apologies all round for going on a bit – for the last 5 weeks – about the local elections in Edinburgh. As I tried to explain in my “opening statement”, I feel strongly about Leith Walk ward – my home for the last 30 years … and about some of the issues that have been with us for too long.
It was quite a spontaneous decision to stand, resulting in a steep learning curve. But I covered a lot of ground – despite my day job at Out of the Blue – not least thanks to my trusty “battle bus”.
The latter was on loan from John, but vital support came in all forms – from friends, family, neighbours, who helped to design and distribute the flyer, did research, helped set up the Twitter and Facebook presence, or were there with comments and advice by phone, email, and face to face. Many others spread the word to their own friends and neighbours and displayed the poster in their windows. Quite amazing the network one builds up over time! To all of you: many many thanks.
In the end, I did not win one of the four council seats, but there is no need for the commiserations that a few people have sent. In fact, the campaign was arguably a resounding victory by putting (hyper) local issues at the top of the agenda, including the “elephant” of 10 years of on/off repairs of Leith Walk.
The success at setting the agenda also translated into the way votes were distributed on 4th May: Leith Walk ward saw the most hotly contested election in Edinburgh with the first councillor elected at stage 5 (Susan Rae, GRN), the second at stage 8 (Marion Donaldson, LAB) and the last 2 (Amy McNeese-Mechan and Lewis Ritchie, SNP) at stage 9. Most Edinburgh wards were decided in stages 1-4.
I dropped out at stage 6 with my subsequent preference voted passed to the two Labour candidates (168), both SNP candidates (155), and 80 to the Conservative candidate; the remaining 116 of my subsequent preference votes were likely for the Green and Libdem candidates.
Conversely, I also gained a lot of votes from voters who put other candidates at number 1 on their ballot paper: 2nd, 3th, 4th and 5th preference votes cast for me added up to some 1,800; in addition to my 432 first preference votes. Altogether 2,289 voters – hypothetically over the threshold to get elected, if all of them had gone for 1st preference …
For the really keen, here are the detailed results (the Preference Summary Report), as issued by the Returning Officer, with a few columns added, showing percentages for convenience.
If you’re even keener: the results for all wards, including Leith Walk, showing all stages of the STV process are here. And here is a handy little video that explains how it works with a simple example.
In summary, an interesting outcome, that shows that there is a considerable appetite for the campaign agenda: getting Leith Walk fixed sooner rather than later, and for paying more attention to the requirements and interests of the most densely populated area in Scotland©.
Since the “elephant” is still very much with us – and the prospect of Leith Walk returning to normality still somewhat in the future (estimates range to 2021) – I suspect I will continue to spend some of my time promoting the above agenda. But not, despite a few pleas, through the Facebook and Twitter accounts in operation during the T4 campaign – they will go silent. The best way to contact me, and indeed to get involved with the issues that concern us, is through Leith Central Community Council – contact and meeting info on the LCCC website.
Original campaign home page below.
Why am I standing in the local election as an independent, non-party political candidate?
I have lived in this area for nearly 30 years and work locally (for charity Out of the Blue). I have been chair of Leith Walk Primary School and Broughton High School. I co-founded a residents association and have been a member of local community councils for many years, the last four as vice chair of Leith Central Community Council, leading on transport and planning. The Evening News has described me as a “veteran campaigner” – perhaps because I helped to beat a planning appeal by Wimpey in a 14-day public hearing some 15 years ago.
“Tobermann was in charge and commanded respect […] He was funny and articulate and his ‘Germans are not renowned for their sense of humour’ was delivered with perfect timing. He appears to genuinely care about the area, and showed a sensible approach to local issues affecting constituents. As an independent, he’s not running for the fun of it.”
I love Edinburgh and I am passionate about our area, the most densely populated and diverse in Scotland – from Broughton and Canonmills to Pilrig and Bonnington, to Ferry Road and Jane Street, from Easter Road to the Hibs ground and the Abbeyhill colonies, via London Road to the top of Leith Walk. It is lively and diverse; it is never far to the heart of the city or the sea; it combines style and quirkiness.
Ever since the aborted tram works, I have pressed Edinburgh Council to put Leith Walk back together again. I am a reasonable man, but 10 years of craters, roadworks, traffic jams and pollution is a long time – many children have grown up thinking this mess is normal. It is not! This is the first time I am standing in a local election as a candidate – to make sure the priorities for our area are understood and translated into action.
One principle and a simple policy
Many local people are fed up with the mess in Leith Walk and the half-hearted way our public realm is maintained and kept clean across the ward. Instead of many policies – which all too often turn out to be empty promises – I have really only one policy: “keep it simple, get the basics right and get it right first time”.
There is a clear principle that should inform all interventions in our area: given the population density, proposals for new housing, office or student accommodation, hotels and large retail developments must always be matched with increased social and green infrastructure – new pavement/roads/cycle paths, more public transport, park and green space access, GP access and schools.
And there must be resources and capacity to maintain all this properly. If for any reason this is not possible, these proposal should not go ahead.
In short, our area needs streets that work for everybody, reliable public transport, well-resourced schools and thriving local parks. Not much to ask for, I would have thought.
If you agree with most of the above, you can help to make a change by voting TOBERMANN on 4th May. If you have party loyalties, but want to make sure I get a fair chance as an independent candidate, put a “1” against my name and a “2” against your party candidate (see sidebar Useful Links for illustration of how the count works in practice).