Mearns councillor will stand for Alba after change of heart

An Aberdeenshire councillor who had previously resolved to stand down at the end of the council term next year says he’s had a change of heart.

By Kevin McRoberts
Thursday, 27th May 2021, 8:22 am
Councillor Leigh Wilson wants to continue to represent the Mearns ward and plans to stand for the Alba Party.
Councillor Leigh Wilson wants to continue to represent the Mearns ward and plans to stand for the Alba Party.

Councillor Leigh Wilson will now seek re-election as a member for the Mearns ward in the Local Government elections in May 2022.

Cllr Wilson was just 22 years old when he was elected in 2017, having stood as a candidate for the SNP.

However, three years later, he decided to leave the party and sit on Aberdeenshire Council as an independent instead. Then, this year , he joined the Alba Party – and says he will seek re-election next year as an Alba councillor.

Cllr Wilson said: “I’ve now been a councillor for over four years and it is an incredible privilege to represent the ward I grew up in.

"Being elected as a young, impatient councillor in 2017, and with no real idea what I was getting into, I had a lot to learn.

"When you’re 22 you think you know everything already, but the most important thing I learned was to discover what I didn’t know and to lean on some of the really experienced councillors for advice.

“I’ve learned so much from just sitting down with people across the party spectrum who were willing to show me the ropes: Martin Ford, a fountain of all knowledge, is someone I know I can pick up the phone to whenever I want to talk; the late Fergie Hood, one of the most sincere people I had met, who went out of his way to help me and showed me how to make a bit of noise when required; and Jim Ingram, who is perhaps the most mischievous 80-year-old I know.

“All of these people have been essential to me becoming better as a councillor, and there’s no question I think I am better at the job now than when I started.”

Cllr Wilson was the youngest ever member of Aberdeenshire Council when he was elected in 2017, but he stepped back from SNP party activity last year, having become “scunnered with politics”, before joining the Alba Party after its launch in April.

He says the new party and subsequent Scottish election campaign re-energised him and now he’s ready to go again as an Alba candidate.

“Look, I was ready to step back from politics and find something else to do with my time, but sometimes events take place which throw you in a completely different direction and start you on a different course.

“I have a positive record from my time in office: helping Johnshaven children gain a safe access to school by securing a designated school bus to Mackie Academy, putting the replacement of Bervie Bridge higher up the council’s agenda, and working with the Mill of Benholm trustees to try to make the council sees sense and lets us maintain the Mill as a public asset.

"These are all local issues that I’ve been involved in and will continue being involved in should I be re-elected next year.

"As for the future, Aberdeenshire has to get to grips with providing an education fit for the 21st century.

"All of our schools now have an abundance of laptops and digital devices, but they don’t have the broadband capacity to use them at the same time. It’s crazy, so campaigning for greater digital infrastructure will be something you’ll be hearing a lot more from me on in the weeks to come.”