LIKE most readers, I have to confess I was taken somewhat by surprise by the sudden appearance of a General Election! I do worry, though, in case the council elections next Thursday are in any way overshadowed.

General Elections may turn on great issues of state like defence or foreign policy, but what happens in East Lothian Council will have the most direct effect on local families. The quality of care our elderly relatives and neighbours receive, our children and grandchildren’s education in local schools, the availability of housing and the viability of towns and villages; these all depend on local decisions.

The last thing we need is those decisions being taken somewhere else, in particular by the SNP Scottish Government. Everyone knows they have repeatedly overturned local decisions to refuse housing developments and pushed them through. They closed our courts and centralised policing, delayed our hospital and we are still waiting on the rail station at East Linton. Now the Scottish Government plans to centralise school budgets too. We cannot have councillors who meekly accept, or even try to justify this.

For the past five years, Labour councillors have stood up to the SNP Government and taken the right local decisions. In spite of government cuts to budgets they have invested in schools, built a new care home at Crookston, worked with bus companies to improve bus services, built more council houses, got the new hospital under way, brought parking back under control and built up local industries such as tourism and food and drink.

More council contracts are going to local businesses, and local young people are being trained at the construction academy in Musselburgh to ensure they benefit as so many houses are built in the county.

All that is rather more important than who will or won’t appear in a TV debate!