Candidate Interviews for Council Elections 2012




Dorothea Morrison has served on the council for the last five years. Her main concern as a councillor has been the lack of affordable housing in St Andrews. She believes that the influx of buy-to-let landlords has driven house prices up, leaving first-time buyers priced out of the market. She was influential in the imposition of the moratorium on HMOs, in order to attempt to create affordable accommodation for both students and young adults looking to get onto the property ladder. As a former chairman of the Preservation Trust, she doesn’t want to change the town, and looks forward, if re-elected, to working closely with the newly established Housing Commission, within which she wants to encourage “no-holds-barred proper dialogue” in order to solve St Andrews’ housing problems. Furthermore, she wants people to go out and vote, to engage with local councillors, and to choose the councillor they think will represent them best. She also wants to make more decisions on a local level, without suffering edicts from above that might not be appropriate for St Andrews. She feels she has worked very well with the other three St Andrews councillors, and that they are united by a common cause – a love of the town.



Ben has been a student at the University for five years, and sat on the SRC for two years, one being the Environment and Ethics Officer, helping found the Transition University of St Andrews Group. He has been a member of the Scottish Green party for five years and felt it was his responsibility to stand as a candidate for the St Andrews ward. His campaign seeks to encourage the development of brown-field sites in St Andrews for the development of low-cost, energy efficient social housing, which he sees as more appropriate alternative to the proposed western development of the town. He sees this as part of an answer to the housing problem in St Andrews. The Madras College redevelopment is also a feature of his campaign. His plan is to propose the building of a new, smaller school in Newport, which would be a more environmentally friendly solution. The South Street site would be kept open in the meantime, with the situation being readdressed at a later stage. His support of local business is also great, and Ben plans to use the council’s buying power to realise this, using local suppliers to source food for schools, for example. Ben is not in favour of the HMO moratorium, believing that it will not address the problems that it set out to solve. Ben would also set out to pressure the University to do more to help with the affordable accommodation situation.



William Sangster was a member of the Royal Air Force until 1977, working in motor transport, and throughout his service with the RAF he took time to look after and work for RAF families. When he left he became involved in town politics. Bill has been a councillor for the last nine years, sits on the Liquor Licensing Board, which organises alcohol licenses Fife-wide, as well as on the Regulations and Licensing Board, which deals with HMO Licensing, and is involved in many other schemes and initiatives throughout the town. He considers his work in the Bassaguard area of town over the last four years especially significant, having worked to revive the area by encouraging the light industry facilities that used to occupy the area to return. Bill has also worked to reinstate the Market Street fountain, which has lain dormant for fifty years, as a working feature, and as a result the fountain should be in working order come June. He has also been involved in the dredging of the Kinness Burn and the restoration of the Martyr’s Monument. If re-elected, Bill hopes to continue the work he has done for the town locally, and get more involved with town and gown initiative. Bill voted against the HMO moratorium, and encourages people whose license-renewal applications are turned down to appeal the decision.



Brian Thomson has a degree in Town Planning and has worked in that field in Perthshire, managing projects to build affordable housing, before moving to St Andrews, the town of his birth, to bring up his family. He now works for the University of Dundee in their Estates and Buildings Department. He was motivated to run for the council by the Madras College redevelopment project: if elected he would put his expertise to work by conducting a full and proper assessment on all available sites, taking the community’s wishes on board as well. Owing to his background he is also very passionate about creating more affordable housing in the town. He believes that the University is not providing enough housing, which puts pressure on the private sector, and that the landlords need to look after properties better, describing the condition of some of the houses he has visited on his campaign as “shocking.” He is in support of the moratorium on HMOs in the town centre, but also accepts that the whole issue needs to be reviewed. Brian is keen to stand up for St Andrews on a Fife-wide level as well, making decisions based on the town’s needs, and to put his knowledge to use  to make sure the right decisions are made in the fields of housing and construction.



Henry Paul has been in the RAF for the last 34 years. He has lived in St Andrews for the last 28 years, and his wife works for the University. He believes in practical action, not just sitting on committees. His priorities are both to find a solution to the Madras school issue and to solve the housing problem for the full spectrum of society. He has always been opposed to the HMO cap, as he believes that it is no way to solve the issue of student accommodation in the town centre, believing a more holistic view of the problem is necessary in order to address it. He is interested in looking at private halls of residence for students, believing that this would be a better solution than simply moving out into town after the first year. Henry is disappointed with local press coverage of the election, feeling it to be ‘muted’, and feels that the democratic approach from people is being lost. While he feels that at the grass-roots level town-gown relations are fantastic, he also believes that there is a disconnect with the higher echelons of the University, and feels that the senior management of the University does not do enough for the town. He is opposed to the idea of turbines being built on the land, being a strong advocate of large, offshore arrays, which would benefit from economies of scale and would not be an eyesore to the local countryside.



Keith graduated from Dundee with an MA Honours in Geography, and taught in many Fife secondary schools, retiring from teaching in 2009. Now that he is no longer employed by the Council as a teacher, he is looking to continue serving the community as a local councillor. He has served on the community council for eleven years, five of those as Chairman. He has been a trustee of the St Andrews Preservation Trust, and is an active member of many local clubs. He sees the councillorship as an opportunity to carry forward the ideas he developed in these positions. His campaign focuses upon trying to carry forwards the work of the current SNP council, working in partnership with the Scottish government. He plans to focus on the housing issue, and hopes to provide a solution to the Madras school crisis to allow the students there to have the best educational experience. With regards to the HMO moratorium, he can understand why it was brought in, but he looks at the HMO issue in relation to the wider housing issues in the town, and the shortages that face every section of society. He is in favour of the Housing Commission proposal, which would take a holistic view of the housing issues and look to solve them.



Murdo MacDonald moved to St Andrews in 1986 to start up his own insurance company, having worked in London then Glasgow as a city inspector in a large insurance company. His children were both schooled in St Andrews, a town he loves, but he believes that standards have slipped in the town since he first arrived. He has sat on the Students’ Association Board, and now wants to sit on the council in order to restore the town to its former glory. He think students in the town are very important, and that the student body doesn’t do enough to advertise the good it does in the town, such as the £112,000 already raised by the Charities Campaign this year. He believes that the standard of housing, both interior and exterior, is “diabolic,” and as a landlord himself he wants to improve standards across the town. He also wants to solve problems such as poor rubbish collection, road surfaces, and parking issues, by applying simple common sense. With regards to the freeze on new HMOs, he realises that this is an issue that needs to be discussed – the University has been in this town for 600 years, this is a University town, and the students are also residents and should be treated as such.



Robin Waterston is a St Andrews “lifer” – he was born here, studied at the University here, and became the Head of Maths at Madras College. He is vice-chairman of the Fife Education Committee, in which capacity he feels he has done a good job, and the improvement in results reflects that. The Madras College redevelopment is naturally very close to his heart. He has been heavily involved with the campaign to build a new school on the University land on the North Haugh, behind Andrew Melville Hall, and if re-elected he would push for the land to be bought from the University in order to facilitate that development. He is also interested in the possibility of the current Madras College being used a starting point for further housing in the town. On the issue of housing, he points out that the problem is unique and very acute, especially in the centre. He supported the moratorium on the grounds that the resident population in the centre is shrinking, and he believes that the mix of town and gown is what makes St Andrews so special. Therefore he hopes in the long run “for a much more coherent policy, St Andrews-wide, for addressing the housing needs of both students and residents.” He is firm in his belief that the University needs to step up in its investment in housing in order to make this a possibility.



Frances Melville is currently the Provost of Fife and chairs the Fife Council, as she has for the last 5 years. Before becoming a councillor, Frances worked as a journalist, an events manager, and even in the University library. She is very proud of Fife, and is greatly uplifted by the work she does and the people she meets. She is delighted with work done on the Kinness Burn, which she backed at council level. She is also very keen to hold evening meetings to allow anybody, even those with other jobs, to run for the council in order to improve the diversity of  the council. In the next 5 years, she would like to keep the decision-making local and open. She also realises that money will have to be saved, and that some difficult decisions will have to be taken. When asked about the HMO cap, Frances stressed that she voted against the decision, but accepted that the University’s accommodation is not sufficient, which is the responsibility of the Strategic Partnership Agreement, and has vowed to look into every possibility on the subject. “Students are residents, and they are all treated the same.”



If you are registered to vote, you can do so between 7am and 10pm today at the polling station indicated on the poll card you would have received in the post. The polling stations are as follows:

St Andrews Central:   St Andrews Town Hall, Queen’s Gardens, St Andrews

St Andrews South:   Canongate Primary School, Maynard Road, St Andrews

St Andrews South-East:   Boys Brigade Hall, Kinnessburn Road, St Andrews

St Andrews West:   St. Leonard’s Church Hall, Donaldson Gardens, St Andrews.


Four councillors will be elected for the ward of St Andrews in this election.



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