BELOW are brief profiles of the seven candidates standing for election in the Haddington and Lammermuir ward at the East Lothian Council election on Thursday, May 4.

Four of them will be elected.

The Haddington and Lammermuir ward has increased in size since the last election in 2012, with Ormiston and Pencaitland (previously part of the Fa'side ward) now included. As a result the number of councillors in the ward is increasing from 3 to 4.

The ward is currently represented by one Conservative, one Labour and one SNP councillor.

Candidates are listed below in alphabetical order.

Shamin Akhtar (Labour)

East Lothian Courier:

SHAMIN Akhtar lives in Pencaitland with her partner and their two children. Prior to being elected a councillor for the Fa’side ward in 2012, Shamin had worked in the voluntary sector for most of her career, firstly in the National Union of Students, where she served as president, and then at the charity umbrella body Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).She is convener of the council’s education committee and cabinet spokesperson for education and children’s services.

Ruth Currie (SNP)

East Lothian Courier:

RUTH Currie has five years’ experience as a councillor at a senior level and is “looking forward to hopefully representing residents across this diverse and vibrant ward”. She currently works for East Lothian’s MP George Kerevan at his office in Haddington. She said: “I am clear that East Lothian’s council house shortage must be remedied to give families more security, as well as fighting the effects of the Westminster Government’s ill-thought-out Universal Credit system on local people.”

John McMillan (Labour)

East Lothian Courier:

JOHN McMillan was elected in 2012. He was schooled at Macmerry Primary and Ross High before Edinburgh University, followed by a career in audit and in consultancy. A supporter of many local organisations and the area partnership, John campaigned for families and communities on homes, schools, planning, funding and jobs. As cabinet spokesperson for economic development, priorities include helping set up and grow businesses, broadband, and making East Lothian Scotland’s leading coastal, leisure, food and drink destination.

Kelvin Pate (Liberal Democrats)

East Lothian Courier:

KELVIN Pate, a farmer, has stayed in East Lothian all his life. He has represented the farming industry at national level for over 10 years and was involved in creating Level 2 apprenticeships. Kelvin strongly believes much more can be done to improve the practical basis of education, making it more relevant to employment opportunities and needs. Kelvin would like to nurture ‘hands-on’ trades in the county as well, working to develop the local tourist industry. He said: “As a food producer, I would encourage local food for local folk.”

Brian Small (Conservative)

East Lothian Courier:

BRIAN Small has substantial commercial experience, having spent nearly 40 years in the financial services industry. He retired from mainstream business life in 2015 with a view to devoting more time to charitable causes and public service. He presently sits on the board of a mental health charity, Penumbra. He has lived in Pencaitland for nearly 23 years and is married to Karen, who is a teacher. He has one son, Andrew, who is currently studying for his doctorate in history. His interests are playing golf, watching football and gardening.

Cris Thacker (Greens)

East Lothian Courier:

CRIS Thacker lives in rural East Lothian and is secretary of East Lammermuir Community Council.He works as a project manager with the NHS and has an honours degree in international relations from the University of Edinburgh. Cris is an advocate for devolving power to local communities. He believes East Lothian Council could do more to attract new businesses, tourists and residents by working with Transport Scotland to reinstate the Haddington branch railway line. He said: “I will represent the people of the ward with respect, openness and passion.”

Tom Trotter (SNP)

East Lothian Courier:

TOM Trotter has lived in Haddington  all his life. He said: “I think that we are extremely lucky to live here, with the countryside, coast and city centre within easy reach. I am very proud to have been allowed the privilege of representing the Haddington and Lammermuir ward for the last 10 years and I am seeking re-election with a pledge to continue to work hard for the area I think is among the best anywhere. We have strong communities in this ward and I have enjoyed representing them and would welcome the challenges of another term doing so.”