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by Kirsteen Paterson
03 November 2023
'I'm the first Lib Dem councillor elected in West Lothian for 30 years'

Councillor Sally Pattle runs a book shop in Linlithgow

'I'm the first Lib Dem councillor elected in West Lothian for 30 years'

Describe the area you represent in one sentence.
Linlithgow is a fantastic ward, rich in history and natural beauty; the ideal location to live and work and the perfect holiday destination for people wanting to explore the area.

How long have you lived there?
My family and I moved to Linlithgow when I was four. I went away to study history and international relations at the University of St Andrews and after that I moved away for a long time, though my parents stayed living here, then my husband and I moved back in 2015. We just love it and now I run a bookshop in the town.

Tell us something we won’t know about your local area.
One of the first people to be assassinated by firearm in the UK was killed in Linlithgow High Street. It was James Stewart, the Earl of Moray and Regent of Scotland, and it was in 1570. There is also a Nobel connection – the Nobel explosive works opened in 1902 and right through the first and second world wars they were manufacturing explosives right on the High Street, about 100 metres away from what was then Linlithgow Academy. They’re both quite explosive facts that you might not know.

Who is the best-known person from your area?
Everybody knows Mary Queen of Scots was born in Linlithgow Palace, as was her father, James V, but we are quite proud that Scotty from Star Trek will be born in Linlithgow in about 300 years.

What challenges are unique to your particular part of the country?
Connectivity is the biggest one at the moment. We recently got the news that McGill’s buses were withdrawing entirely from West Lothian. We are pretty much the ideal commuter community, close to Edinburgh, to Glasgow, to Stirling. We have good train connectivity, but if you live in an outlying town or village, you need the bus to get to the train and we are facing smaller communities being entirely cut off.

What made you stand for election?
I had become more involved in the community through the bookshop, Far From the Madding Crowd, in working with most of the schools and on how we keep the High Street vibrant, so I joined the community council. I had been a Liberal Democrat since university and there wasn’t really an active branch, so we restarted that and when nobody else wanted to be a candidate, I felt I had something positive to offer.

What’s the one thing Holyrood politicians could do that would be of the greatest benefit to the area you represent?
At the moment it’s to help us pay for the RAAC work we are having to undertake. So far our bill is £53m and we have had absolutely no help or support from the Scottish Government, despite repeated requests over a number of years. West Lothian has been at the vanguard of this, as far back as 2018, and that is £53m we desperately need to go to other services. They could help us to foot the bill.

What’s the best bit about living where you do?
The community. We’re very proud of our history and the people are brilliant. The palace, the loch and Beecraigs Country Park are all in the ward and they’re fantastic assets.

Is there a particular word you love using that only people in your part of the country would recognise?
If you’re from Linlithgow and you hear ‘the Marches’, you know that means our biggest civic festival of the year. It dates back centuries.

If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?
I did live in Seville for seven years and I’ve got such a soft spot for that part of Spain, but my husband is Portuguese and I’ve promised him that when we retire, we’ll retire to Portugal.

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