As an MSP for Lothian, a region that stretches from Soutra Hill in the east to Harthill Services in the west, it’s good to get beyond the Edinburgh city bypass and meet constituents and discuss the challenges and opportunities they encounter in their neighbourhoods.
I recently paid a visit to Linlithgow and saw the newly-developed allotments site at Oakwell on the outskirts of the town. It’s one of many projects being encouraged by Transition Linlithgow, a local group looking for ways to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and connect the community to issues such as energy, food and the economy.
At Oakwell all the plots are taken and are in amazing shape. It was good to talk to Kirsty Leonard of the allotment society. It was also encouraging to hear from Alan Brown the chair of Transition Linlithgow about the work they’re doing to develop the community’s renewable energy potential.
The forthcoming Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill should be a great opportunity to give local groups a real say in issues that affect them. We know that increasing numbers of people are keen to grow their own food, and that localised economies help money circulate in a community rather than disappear into corporate coffers.
I’ll do my best to keep these issues on the agenda so communities across Lothian have more control over their future.
This article first appeared on Alison's own website.