THERE’S a lot at stake in this Scottish Parliament election for Midlothian North and Musselburgh. All our focus needs to be on building a lasting recovery out of Covid and providing new opportunities for the next generation: good education in local schools, a strong NHS, secure jobs, safe streets, a greener and cleaner environment – the things we all want. That is why I have made five pledges to the people of Musselburgh that would be my priorities:

1. Campaign for more community police teams. These officers would put the needs of communities first, working with them to prevent crime and disorder. I know this works from my time as Lothian and Borders Police Board convener. I want to restore that local accountability to policing.

2. Restore standards in Scottish education. I back my party’s plan to recruit 3,000 additional teachers in Scottish schools because that would mean 57 more teachers in East Lothian. We also propose a catch-up fund to help pupils recover the lost education from the pandemic and I will work to increase links to local universities and companies to get access to high-quality jobs for school leavers.

3. Deliver fair funding for East Lothian Council. The council has struggled to cope with the increased population from housebuilding. The SNP Government has cut its budget by 15 per cent in real terms since 2011-12, despite having its own budget increased by nine per cent by the UK Government. This is a scandal when council services impact our lives most directly. I would help enshrine fair council funding in law, giving East Lothian Council an increase of almost £40m.

4. Invest in our NHS with a £600m fund to clear the backlog of delayed treatment and procedures. I would challenge the scandalous lack of GP appointments in Musselburgh by demanding NHS Lothian help recruit more GPs. The Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank says Conservative funding plans for the NHS are the most generous of all the parties, and I want to use this to gain fairer funding for Lothian health services.

5. Stop the SNP’s workplace car park tax and other damaging Edinburgh measures that ignore Musselburgh’s needs for good bus services and often necessary car access to jobs in the Edinburgh and wider region.

But we can’t focus on these issues if Scotland is divided all over again by the SNP’s plan for another independence referendum. They’ve taken their eye off the ball while concentrating on independence and only Scotland’s main opposition, the Scottish Conservatives, can stop the SNP and refocus on what matters.

I will ensure our area has an MSP who will always speak up strongly on behalf of local people. I’ve worked to improve Musselburgh’s local public services in the past and I know where the problems lie. I will use that experience to call out the failures of 14 years of SNP government and seek positive change for the better.

Iain Whyte biography: As an elected councillor, I know how important local issues are to making life better. So, it has been a real pleasure to use that experience when interacting with residents in Musselburgh in this campaign. The pandemic has limited that to phones, online and messages, but the issues and enthusiasm are the same. I am the Conservative Group leader on Edinburgh Council, which gives me an insight and political input into the whole range of council issues. I believe this experience would be vital in a Scottish Parliament that for too long has centralised services and ignored local democracy. I also see how some of the city policies on transport work against people in Musselburgh when job access is part of a regional economy. My experience as councillor includes being the convener of the Lothian and Borders Police Board for six years prior to the amalgamation of policing into Police Scotland. I then went on to serve on the Scottish Police Authority Board. That’s why I want to reverse some of the centralisation of policing to allow our hard-working local police officers to increase the work they do in partnership with communities to prevent crime. In my working life, I have both worked for NHS Lothian and served on the board. Again, that linked me directly to Musselburgh, where I was the chair of the then East Lothian Community Health Partnership that used to be based at Edenhall Hospital. I have served on a number of company and charity boards and I was a founder member of the Edinburgh March Riding Association, which reinstated the Riding of the Marches tradition to the city in 2009. I remain the chairman and continue to help organise this annual event on a voluntary basis. Through this, I’ve taken part in the Musselburgh Festival as a rider and I’m well aware of the pride and community spirit that the Honest Toun’s Association creates and enhances for local people. I hope we can soon return to mass community events and celebrate those local connections.