TWO more sitting councillors have confirmed they will not be seeking re-election as the countdown to next year’s local government polls begins.

Councillor Jim Goodfellow, who will have represented the North Berwick Coastal ward for 10 years when he steps down, and Labour colleague Fiona O’Donnell will vacate their seats at the election in May.

Mr Goodfellow, who has served as cabinet spokesperson for housing and community wellbeing since 2017, felt it was time to step aside and spend more time with his family.

He said: “It has been a privilege to represent the constituents within the North Berwick Coastal ward since May 2012 and I’ve done my best to bring their concerns and aspirations to the council over this time.

“I’ve been lucky since leaving school at 16 to have had three careers, all of which I have enjoyed, and serving on East Lothian Council has been particularly rewarding when I have seen how, despite the significant budget cuts we have experienced, the council has been able to address the inequalities within our county.

“After 10 years, at 74, I feel I’ll be of an age when spending more time with my grandchildren has become a priority and I hope those elected in May next year enjoy serving all their constituents as much as I have.”

Ms O’Donnell, who represents the Preston Seton Gosford ward, was previously East Lothian’s MP from 2010 to 2015.

She told the Courier: “It has been a real honour to represent the people of Preston, Seton and Gosford. At a time when the Scottish Government continues year-on-year cuts to councils, it has been a challenging job.

“As I near retirement, I hope to find another way to make a difference.”

The announcement comes as Labour confirmed four sitting councillors were seeking re-election.

Shamin Akhtar and John McMillan, who represent the Haddington and Lammermuir ward, and Fiona Dugdale and Colin McGinn, who are councillors for the Tranent/Wallyford/Macmerry ward, have all been put forward for the council elections.

Both the Conservatives, who currently have seven councillors, and SNP, who have six councillors, are in the process of selecting their candidates for the six council wards.

The Liberal Democrats confirmed a selection process was under way, with plans for candidates to stand.

And a spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said: “East Lothian Council is in desperate need for Green councillors, and the Scottish Greens are looking forward to campaigning to make that a reality next year. Our branches are in the process of selecting candidates.”

It has already been confirmed that another three sitting councillors – Jane Henderson, Craig Hoy and Paul McLennan – will not be standing for re-election.

Ms Henderson, a Conservative councillor for the North Berwick Coastal ward, confirmed last year she would be stepping down, while Mr Hoy, a Conservative councillor for Haddington and Lammermuir, and Mr McLennan, an SNP councillor for Dunbar and East Linton, became MSPs earlier this year.

Ms Akhtar (pictured below), who lives in Pencaitland, and Mr McMillan, a Haddington resident, have been councillors since 2012, while Ms Dugdale and Mr McGinn, who both live in Tranent, were first elected in 2017.

East Lothian Courier: Councillor Shamin Akhtar

Ms Akhtar described representing the community where she lived as “a great honour”.

She said: “I have always sought to work as hard as possible for local people and stand up for the interests of local communities.

“We have faced an unprecedented crisis which has caused huge problems for many local people, businesses and organisations. It’s going to take years to recover fully and our message at next year’s election is that we will be entirely focused on that recovery for as long as it takes.”

Meanwhile, Mr McMillan (pictured below) described the last 18 months as “incredibly difficult”.

East Lothian Courier: Councillor John McMillan Provost East Lothian Council

He said: “I believe that local people have responded in a remarkable way to help look after, support and care for their communities and neighbours.

"The council has also delivered in deeply challenging circumstances and I’m proud of the response of staff to the emergency and how they have worked with partners, stakeholders and key agencies to support local business and secure jobs.

"The leadership of the Labour administration has also been a key element of that delivery and I hope to have the privilege of continuing to be part of that team and representing this ward at the election.”

Meanwhile, Ms Dugdale (pictured below) and Mr McGinn are also hoping to continue representing the Tranent/Wallyford/Macmerry ward.

East Lothian Courier: Councillor Fiona Dugdale

Ms Dugdale said: “While Covid has made it difficult to do some of the things we would have liked, I believe we have achieved a great deal for the people who call this part of East Lothian home.

"We have delivered a new state-of-the-art primary school for Wallyford, with a secondary school also on the way, built a new community facility for Whitecraig and invested heavily in school improvements in Tranent.”

Mr McGinn (pictured below) added: “The pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone, but I am immensely proud of how local people have responded and looked out for each other.

East Lothian Courier: Councillor Colin McGinn

"While I believe we have seen a lot of positive progress, especially in education, we also have big plans for future improvements across the ward.

“I look forward to campaigning over the months ahead and hope people will put their faith in us again.”