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Councillor Paul Di Mascio: Why Airdrie is like Rome

Councillor Paul Di Mascio

Councillor Paul Di Mascio: Why Airdrie is like Rome

Paul Di Mascio is the depute leader of the Progress North Lanarkshire group on North Lanarkshire Council. He tells Holyrood why Airdrie just edges it over Italy

Describe the area you represent in one sentence
Like Rome, Airdrie was built on seven hills and is rich in industrial heritage – mostly urban, though we also have some real jewels in terms of green spaces within the area.

How long have you lived there?
I was born in the nearby maternity hospital a few miles away in Bellshill, however I have always lived and been brought up in Airdrie. When my wife and I were married in 1995 we stayed and settled down in our first home here and have brought up our two beautiful daughters here, who are now in their 20s.

Tell us something we won’t know about your local area.
Airdrie and surrounding villages were historically a pivotal industrial centre, playing a crucial role in the industrial development of Scotland. We had one of the earliest railways in the world, the Monkland and Kirkintilloch Railway, and had a vital part of the Forth and Clyde Canal, which is still with us of course. Both served the transportation of local coal, goods and the movement of people ultimately between our industrial centres.

Who is the best-known person from you area?
I would say currently Jason Leitch, the former national clinical director, or singer Nathan Evans. We have a few well-known footballers including Brian McClair, former Celtic, Manchester United and Scotland player, whose parents I am informed used to babysit me, and Jim Traynor, whom I have met a few times, a sports journalist and ex-Rangers director.

What challenges are unique to your particular part of the country?
We have a wonderful town and surrounding villages, however there are ongoing challenges with regards to social deprivation in areas. Concentrated efforts are very much required to revitalise the town centre and local industry, and to maintain and help the strong number of business start-ups become the medium and larger businesses of the near future, as well as attracting larger businesses. 

What made you stand for election?
I wanted to do everything that is within my scope and capability to represent my area and help make things better for our community. I had also become concerned about many decisions made on our behalf locally and the apparent lack of proper scrutiny.

Being on the inside now, so to speak, there is a huge level of scrutiny required within local politics which some aren’t necessarily aware of. I don’t always see that being taken seriously by many elected councillors or they just accept the whip or party line without questioning. The lack of scrutiny of decision-making at times leaves me flabbergasted.

It is vitally important that people standing for political office, whether national or local, should come from or live in the area in which they seek to represent. We’ve never had a local MSP, since devolution, who is in fact local, nor many MPs over many decades who were local people representing their local area. That has to change.

What’s the one thing Holyrood politicians could do that would be of greatest benefit to the area you represent?
Reform local government and fund it so that councils can focus on delivering quality services and on improvements that can be made to people’s lives. That needs appropriate levels of funding for improving our infrastructure, health and social care, education, business support, housing, initiatives to tackle poverty, inequality and youth projects, investment in our green spaces and the regeneration of our communities.

What’s the best bit about living where you do?
The people, the green spaces and where we are located. We’re slap-bang in the middle between Glasgow and Edinburgh, right in the centre of the central belt of Scotland, just off the M8 motorway and with a train line taking you to or from either city in around 30 minutes. 

Is there a particular word you love using that only people in your part of the country would recognise?
A word I love and don’t ever recall hearing anywhere else – which was often used by my gran Carroll when I was growing up – was ‘snauchters’, meaning tasty bits, normally a sweet treat.

If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?
I would choose from the gorgeous Highlands of Scotland – I have Urquhart blood and my ancestors come from the castle of the same name on the banks of Loch Ness – Ireland, where I have roots both north and south, or Italy. My family roots are in a village called Cardito, situated in between Rome and Naples. The country is just gorgeous, the way of life seems wonderful and I must confess I also love Italian football.

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