Scottish elections: This is who is standing in North-East Fife constituency

Voters go to the polls on Thursday, May 6 to choose their next MSPs.

By Jon Brady, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 30th April 2021, 8:13 pm

We profile the five constituencies across Fife:

Am I in this constituency?

North East Fife covers the Fife Council wards of Howe of Fife and Tay Coast, Tay Bridgehead, St Andrews, East Neuk and Landward, and Cupar and Strathmiglo.

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The candidates standing in noorth-east Fife

You can check which constituency you live in on the Local Government Boundary Commission website.

What happened last time?

Save for a five-year spell between 2011 and 2016, North East Fife has been a one of the Scottish Parliament's few Liberal Democrat strongholds. Incumbent MSP and Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie snatched the seat from the SNP's Roderick Campbell five years ago.

That momentum carried on into 2019's General Election, which saw Lib Dem Wendy Chamberlain take the Westminster North East FIfe seat from the SNP's Stephen Gethins after he scored two successive victories in 2015 and 2017.

Voters go to the polls on Thursday

Who is standing?

North East Fife has four constituency candidates for 2020, each of whom is profiled below in their own words.

Rhuaraidh Fleming - Scottish National Party

Tell us about yourself.

I've spent the last decade now working on or campaigning on issues affecting North East Fife, working for Roderick Campbell and Stephen Gethins, and working with lots of local groups and people in North East Fife. I've enjoyed being able to be there helping people with the full breadth of their problems.

The reason behind wanting to stand is that knowing what I've been able to do behind the scenes, I feel I can do more for people as their MSP. I'd have more oversight to do what needs to be done for the people of the area.

What are your local priorities if elected?

The main priority is recovery from Covid and ensuring local businesses and communities and get up and running again. I'd like to say the pandemic has not affected North East Fife in the same way as other bits of Fife but we need to make sure businesses can open, stay open and properly recover. It's the communities too: making sure they can come together again.

Beyond recovery we need to look not at how we get back to where we were but what's next for our local areas. Something I've done over the last few months is working to prevent local bank closures - it's a systemic erosion of local services. Town centres need to have confidence and for banks to be moving out sends the wrong message.

We need to improve transport, our roads, bring back the rail connection at Newburgh and encourage bus use and active travel with walking and cycling connections. And post-pandemic, post-recovery, people living here should be able to choose whether Scotland should be independent.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I retired from a not-too glamorous career in football when I was 23 because of a horror tackle that did some damage to an already tight knee. But that opened the door to a new sport called floorball [a hockey-esque game played with a ball] and I've since become the captain of Fife Floorball Club.

Wendy Haynes - Scottish Labour Party

Tell us about yourself.

I'm coming into politics as a member of the Labour Party for many years. I've done a lot of campaigning but never thought of being a candidate until recently.

I'm from the Midlands originally and had a career in IT and computer programming then I had a family and changed career, into librarianship for public libraries and now for the NHS. I support practitioners and researchers in finding information to inform practice and help them with their research.

What are your local priorities if elected?

The overriding issue is concentrating on recovery from the effects of the pandemic. It hasn't gone away so we're focusing on helping the NHS to continue to get vaccinations out and to recover our other NHS services. I'm concerned about the effect on cancer screening and treatment and mental health in particular.

Transport is really important for rural areas and we need to build confidence again in public transport, giving people confidence to move around and travel locally again. We need to see a rail link in St Andrews and a new railway station for Newburgh - these are things I would very much support if elected. Once we all start moving again I think this is really important for local connectivity.

Broadband has got a huge effect on small businesses - they're reliant on it, and in particular Covid has shown how local businesses have managed to continue to offer their serves online. That all depends on good broadband. We need more housing for local people, more affordable green housing that is properly insulated, and this would support building communities and supporting jobs.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I'm a big football fan - I support Wolverhampton Wanderers and used to be a season ticket holder, following them all over. I once famously fainted when I was watching the Wolves at Leyton Orient, before the match even started!

Rhona Metcalfe - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Tell us about yourself.

I was in the RAF and retired in 2017. I came back to Scotland with my husband, who was also in the RAF. Because we've been in the armed forces we couldn't get involved in politics and it wasn't until I left that I joined the Conservatives and last March I decided I wanted to run for the first time. It's been a whirlwind.

What are your local priorities if elected?

The state of the roads. I know there's a system in place to get them fixed but it doesn't happen fast enough and we need to completely change how councils look after infrastructure. We need fairer funding for councils to encourage not just reporting of potholes but a better system that ensures we have better roads. We need better rural transport infrastructure but it seems all the funding goes to towns and cities. Rural locations need to be able to connect to towns and cities to support the economy.

Other infrastructure needs looked at: planning, broadband, wifi. There is a planning process run by the planning department in each council but when we look back at 2018/19 more than 50% of decisions were overturned by Holyrood reporters. What's the point in having a local system? We need a better planning process that ensures local decisions are kept local.

We're moving towards new ways of doing things. I've got an electric car but where I am people can't connect to the internet very well, which is outrageous in this day and age. The Conservatives have pledged to get broadband across the whole country - we need to get broadband in every single house and business especially when a lot of people, especially women, are working from home.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

The thing I would like people to take away about me is that I'm a compassionate Conservative. Everyone in this country wants our country to prosper because if the country does well we all benefit - better jobs, better economy. Just because I'm a Conservative it doesn't make me a bad person. I'm very passionate about helping people and I don't want to see anybody left behind or forgotten about.

Willie Rennie - Scottish Liberal Democrats *

Tell us about yourself.

I'm a local boy, brought up in Strathmiglo and schooled in Cupar; I was into the Boys' Brigade, getting outdoors, interested in the environment. I was supposed to be a nature reserve manager by this point and did a degree in biology - but I got sucked into politics instead, going to Cornwall for a few years before coming back up to be chief executive of the party.

I've represented Dunfermline as an MP but they didn't renew the contract, put it that way, then I was elected to the Scottish Parliament. Being able to represent my home area has been pretty special.

What are your local priorities if elected?

We've done a lot in the last five years - preventing the closure of GP out-of-hours services in St Andrews, saving college courses at Cupar, supporting the new Madras College after the years of arguing.

I want to continue that campaigning on things like like the Newburgh railway station, where the community have been meticulous with their applications. I'm hopeful we can that recognise that good work and get Newburgh reopened. I also want to make sure we improve cycling and walking routes around Fife. There's already infrastructure being planned and we want to make sure it's being built.

But the initial priority is making sure that we get to a position where we are recovering from the pandemic, from mental health waiting times - especially for children who are sometimes waiting over a year to get treatment - to education. I want to make sure Fife schools get extra teachers to be able to cut class sizes, and that we're creating jobs Fife needs. I want to make sure Methil is able to exploit the potential of its coastal location for renewables, and that we support projects in hydrogen as well.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

People will know I'm a bit of a runner. I'm up at 5.30am every morning with my head-torch on, up with the birds and the sunrise. It's a special time for me that allows me to rethink and recharge. What people might not know is that I like binge-watching on Netflix too. There's a great Australian series called Rake, about a barrister who's a bit of a chancer, that's so funny. It's well worth watching.

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