THE race is now on to become Musselburgh's next MSP.

Colin Beattie (SNP) is looking to be elected for the third time having first won the Midlothian North and Musselburgh seat in 2011.

He will be up against Stevie Curran (Labour), Charles Dundas (Liberal Democrats) and Iain Whyte (Conservatives) in the election next month.

Each week, the East Lothian Courier will give each of the candidates the chance to speak about what they've been up to and why you should vote for them.

East Lothian Courier:

Colin Beattie (SNP)

THIS year we face an election like no other.

Normally at this stage of an election I would be chapping doors and speaking with people on the street and at events.

Covid-19 has made this near impossible so far.

I am doing my best to get information out through social media and leafletting, and I hope that through these means I can share important information that can help you make an informed decision on May 6.

I was tremendously encouraged when on Thursday, March 25, the SNP won the by-election in Midlothian East council ward.

Clearly, voters continue to put their faith in the SNP to manage our country out of the double damage of Brexit and Covid-19.

Those twin hits are formidable.

Exports of food and drink products to the EU are down 63 per cent following Brexit.

Our fishermen have once again trusted the Tories and been dreadfully betrayed.

The damage to our economy will take time to repair.

The self-harm inflicted on the UK – and Scotland, where we voted solidly against leaving the EU – continues to be felt by everyone.

If re-elected, the SNP Government will be ambitious:

  • 100,000 new affordable houses – tackling the housing shortage;
  • Establishing a National Women’s Business Centre backed by £50 million of investment in the next generation of women-led businesses;
  • The Young Person’s Guarantee for everyone aged 18 to 24 to be given the opportunity of a job, apprenticeship, education, training, or volunteering;
  • Expanding concessionary travel to everyone below the age of 22 to give our young workforce affordable transport to training and to work;
  • Maintaining free prescriptions;
  • Maintaining protection from the Tory bedroom tax;
  • Supporting our export businesses.

The SNP Scottish Government is determined – so am I.

I intend to continue helping to bring new local jobs to the area and to help retain local jobs at risk.

My 10 years as the constituency MSP have given me a tremendous knowledge and insight into businesses and communities across the constituency.

Let me use it.

East Lothian Courier:

Stevie Curran (Labour)

I AM DELIGHTED to have been chosen as Labour’s Scottish Parliamentary candidate for our constituency.

Words can’t do justice to the sense of pride I feel knowing that I have the opportunity to represent the constituency where I’ve lived my entire life.

I live in Dalkeith, having grown up in Danderhall.

I’m now 48 and married to Ann (nee Carwell).

I’m a Midlothian councillor for the ward of Dalkeith and Danderhall.

I hold cabinet responsibilities and chair the Midlothian Police and Fire board.

I have extensive experience working in the public sector, which includes over 10 years of employment with Lothian and Borders Police/Police Scotland (operations coordinator).

My hobbies are golf and IT.

It’s strange that our Holyrood constituency crosses county borders, with Musselburgh, Wallyford and Whitecraig on the east side of the boundary.

There are similarities between Midlothian and East Lothian, we have many shared values, but in other ways our counties are very different.

East Lothian being a coastal authority attracts much more tourism, with a wonderful array of golf courses which I particularly enjoy.

I’ve been a member at Musselburgh Golf Club (Monktonhall) for over 10 years.

Now for some of the politics of this election.

I opposed independence in 2014 and I oppose another referendum.

We can’t risk having a parliament that focuses on old arguments or settling old scores. Scotland deserves a better government and a better opposition.

Our focus must be on delivering a national recovery plan so we can build a fairer and stronger Scotland.

I will be a strong voice for our communities.

I will focus on a recovery plan, a health recovery, an education recovery, a jobs recovery.

I will fight for opportunities for our young people and I will campaign for fairer funding for our councils.

There are also local issues that require urgent intervention, probably none more so than the very poor patient experiences at Riverside Medical Practice.

I cannot accept that it is not within the gift of your MSP to resolve these problems.

This will be my very first task.

East Lothian Courier:

Charles Dundas (Liberal Democrats)

WHILST some people seem to have been distracted during the first week of this election by the fuss around a new party and defections from the SNP, I’m very pleased to report that Willie Rennie and the Scottish Liberal Democrats have kicked things off on a really positive and constructive note.

Our campaign has been launched with a needle-sharp focus on putting recovery from the pandemic first.

For communities like Musselburgh, that means prioritising the creation of jobs, cutting NHS waiting times, boosting mental health services and seriously tackling the climate emergency.

In the first week of the campaign, our Lib Dem focus has been on setting out our plans to boost Scottish education for every stage and age: to get a good start in life; to excel at school; and to help people retrain if they need to.

At the heart of our ideas for education are an Education Bounce Back plan to tackle the attainment gap, because we believe it is an essential investment which allows everyone in Scotland to achieve their potential.

Back in 2016, the SNP called our proposals for extra money to be allocated directly to schools and targeted at closing the poverty-related attainment gap “dangerous” and “ridiculous”, but we didn’t give up, and during the last Parliament the Scottish Government created a Pupil Equity Funding scheme to do just that on a year-by-year basis.

Then in the last Scottish budget, the Lib Dems were able to secure an extra 16 per cent (£20 million) to boost that scheme and do more to close the attainment gap.

Now, Willie Rennie and the Lib Dems propose to make this targeted extra money for the schools who need it most a permanent feature of Scottish education, and start offering it on a long-term basis to schools so that they can make plans to invest it over multiple years with confidence.

That should allow the 600 teachers currently employed on temporary contracts because of the uncertainty around the PEF scheme to be given more security and allow Scottish education to bounce back the way that it needs to.

East Lothian Courier:

Iain Whyte (Conservatives)

WHILE campaigning this week, I have been investigating the car parking provision in Musselburgh.

I do not agree with the suggestion from East Lothian Council of introducing parking charges at coastal car parks at Back Sands and Levenhall Links.

The council is considering introducing charges here on an experimental basis in line with existing arrangements at other coastal car parks.

The council has also mooted the possibility of a further review of parking charges in a much wider Musselburgh Town Centre Parking Review.

The introduction of parking charges at coastal car parks further down the East Lothian coast has been deeply unpopular and I am disappointed that East Lothian Council are considering expanding the arrangements to Musselburgh.

The waterfront area has seen an increase in visitors throughout the pandemic.

This has been a really good thing, as people have needed that break in the fresh air to exercise and maintain their mental health.

But it isn’t enough just to think about what happens during the remaining lockdown.

We need to encourage visitors to keep visiting the area once lockdown is over.

This will help to rebuild the Musselburgh economy by supporting local businesses.

The same goes for the town centre car parks, which are vital to getting high street businesses back on their feet once they can reopen.

Introducing car parking charges would send out entirely the wrong message and will only encourage visitors to park in locations where there is no charging.

That could be very disruptive for local residents as their neighbourhood streets would become clogged with cars avoiding the charges, giving them their own parking headache.

If elected, I will work with the local Conservative councillor in Musselburgh to oppose this proposal and do all I can to encourage visitors to Musselburgh to help businesses rebuild in line with the Scottish Conservative proposal for a Town Centres Revival Plan.