Ellon Community Council brought politics to the people of the town last Friday when a packed Victoria Hall heard four of the parliamentary candidates for the Gordon constituency spell out their reasons for standing for election.
The four main parties were represented, and included former First Minister Alex Salmond, representing the SNP, while Christine Jardine of the Lib-Dems is bidding to retain the Westminster seat held for more than 30 years by Sir Malcolm Bruce who has stood down. The Conservatives were represented by Colin Clark and the Labour Party by Braden Davy.
Missing from the line-up was UKIP candidate Emily Santos who was unable to attend.
Community council chairman Sandy McDougall hailed the event as a huge success.
The council held a similar event during last year’s referendum campaign.
Mr McDougall said: “We were extremely pleased to have attracted 250 people to a political meeting on a Friday night.
“Following on from a similar event at the time of last year’s referendum debate, it seems that there is still great interest in national and local politics.
“My vice-chairman Peter Mackie takes great credit for the organisation, while former member Tim Canning was a calm influence in the chair.”
Encouragingly for local democracy there was good turn-out of young people eager to hear what the four candidates had to say with less than three weeks to polling day on May 7.
Over a two-hour debating session the panel fielded six questions, ranging from the re-introduction of the rail line to Ellon, to a question on how each candidate would go about engaging with the public once elected.
On the rail issue there was general agreement that a link would be an added asset in the local transport structure, though Mr Clark did not see it as a priority.
”The completion and dualling of the A90 to Peterhead has to come first,” he insisted.
The question gave Ms Jardine the opportunity to attack what she claimed was the Scottish Government’s lack of investment in a transport structure, but was rebuffed by Mr Salmond who highlighted the SNP’s many plans for the area, including his party’s commitment to improving the A90.
Interestingly, in what proved to be a fairly low-key debate, there were no questions on either the NHS or main stream education, neither was there any significant heckling from an attentive, well-behaved audience.
As befitting an occasion attended by so many young people, the youngest member of the panel Mr Davy, put down a marker for the future and gave a good account of himself in the light of the experience he faced.