Born and educated in Scotland, Alasdair is a graduate of Dundee, Strathclyde and Glasgow universities. He worked for the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall for 15 years where he specialised in the defence economies of non-NATO countries.
From 1999-2007 he was a senior official in the Scottish Parliament and Clerk to the Subordinate Legislation and European and External Relations Committees.
From 2007 he worked in the private sector in public affairs, advising companies and third sector organisations on their work with government.
He was an SNP Lothians list candidate in the May 2011 Scottish Parliament election and election agent for Marco Biagi MSP.
He is a member of the national committee of the Association for Scottish Public Affairs (ASPA), the Scottish trustee of Autism Initiatives UK, and has recently been appointed a Director of the Edinburgh OneCity Trust.
He was only elected as a councillor for the first time in 2011 and offered us these thoughts on the job so far:-
“The main issue in the by-election last August was the problem of the tram project. The view I expressed in the campaign was that it needed to be settled at the least possible cost to the taxpayer. In the event, the project had become so advanced that the only financially viable option was to complete the line to St Andrew Square. That is why the SNP Group reluctantly abandoned its long-standing opposition to the project and voted for that outcome. It was the only responsible thing to do at that point.
An invaluable aspect of campaigning is that, as a candidate, you get out on the doorsteps and hear directly what voters have to say. Trams aside, what I found out was that voters have a whole range of very local issues that they want to see resolved in their particular street or in their part of town, say either the Old Town or the New Town, but they also have a strong sense of Edinburgh as a fine city and a good place to live. They want the best of Edinburgh to be preserved and improved but they also, naturally, want to see the efficient and effective delivery of the Council’s services. The cuts to the Council’s budget have made this all the more important and the administration has been finding better ways of working and delivering of those services. There are further challenges ahead but I firmly believe that, despite what opposition parties may say, the Council is in a hugely better place to deal with them than it was before the last election in 2007.
The City Centre ward faces a particular combination of challenges. There are the rights and needs of the residents on the one hand and the needs of the economy on the other. The city centre also has a substantial night-time economy generating employment and revenue for businesses but it can impinge on residents in a way I hear a lot about. Tourism too, is a large earner for the city’s economy and not without its impact on residents. All these aspects of the city’s life have to be somehow balanced. As a city centre Councillor I am acutely aware of the extent to which, and how, that balance is successfully struck. It is something that will always be there and I see a good part of my job as doing everything I can to make the city centre work for as many people and interests as possible.
Other aspects of the job which have a fairly low profile are committee work (I serve on the Finance and Resources Committee and the Health, Social Care and Housing Committee) which takes up more time than possibly is generally realised but it is a necessary part of policy-making as well as providing transparency and democratic accountability. Another other major aspect of the job I’ve mentioned in passing is constituency case work. Residents and businesses approach me with all sorts of issues they want to have sorted out. I have dealt with literally hundreds of cases since last August. For some there is a straightforward solution but there is a small minority that inevitably take time to resolve. There are also Community Council and other residents’ meetings to attend in the evenings as well as civic receptions.
On the whole it is very varied work and I have learned a great deal about a wide range of issues in the ward in my short time as a Councillor. I feel very privileged to represent my ward on the Council and would like nothing more than the opportunity to continue to work in its interests after the May Council election. But the voters will decide!”
Telephone: 0131 529 3243
Fax: 0131 529 4080