North Berwick residents report climate change is a 'major issue' ahead of General Election

The UK general election arrives in a week’s time on Thursday, July 4 and Lothian voters are preparing to cast their ballot for the first time since 2019.

Edinburgh Live spoke to Lothian East constituents in North Berwick to hear about what issues are most important to locals in this election.

Residents shared concerns about education, affordable housing, the NHS, accessibility of childcare, the state of the roads, and the environment.

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Climate change was particularly important to long-time resident Keith.

He said: “I have lived in North Berwick for 39 years and I see the damage the sea is doing.”

In the last three years, Keith has noticed more powerful storm surge, higher sea levels, and coastal erosion on the golf course near the North Berwick high street.

He said: “It’s also all the pollution that we’re generating – I hear about the microplastics that are being released into the ground.”

Keith wants politicians to focus on these environmental matters, which he says are “major issues.”

He continued: “I think sometimes that’s sidelined.”

Several residents were vocal about the state of education.

Angela, a primary school teacher in Lothian East, was troubled by understaffing and underfunding in schools.

She said that she wants the coming administration to “listen to the people who work in schools and give enough money so we can run our establishments appropriately.”

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A university student from North Berwick, Molly, shared her concerns about challenges that young Scots face in gaining admission to Scottish universities.

She said: “I have friends who got straight A’s and did all the extracurriculars, but weren’t accepted at the top Scottish unis because they’re competing against international students who are able to pay for their education.

“I think that’s really appalling for Scottish young people who are trying to forward their education.”

When asked to describe Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, North Berwick residents used words like: “smarmy”, “untrustworthy”, “entitled”, “dapper”, “rich”, and “incompetent”.

Some residents who spoke to Edinburgh Live were partial to the Tory leader, such as Conservative North Berwick voter Jean.

She said: “I like Rishi Sunak. He understands what’s going on in the country and how difficult it is for so many people, and would like to do more. What we need is more money, of course.”

Others, such as North Berwick resident Jo, 46, felt that the Prime Minister was out of touch.

She said: “I don’t think he’s in the real world.”

When asked to describe Keir Starmer, those who spoke to Edinburgh Live shared milder opinions.

Residents described Starmer as “trustworthy”, “having integrity”, and “honest”, but also as “boring” and “lacking charisma”.

Chris, 39, was skeptical of the Labour leader. He said: “He comes across as a professional politician. Someone who says the right thing at the right time, but I don’t know how he’s going to back up what he says.”

Lothian East includes North Berwick, Haddington, Dunbar, Longniddry, Tranent, and Gifford.

Alba MP Kenny MacAskill held the seat from 2019 until 2024 but is not running for re-election.

The constituency’s boundaries were redrawn for this election, most notably seeing the district’s largest town, Musselburgh, moved into the new Edinburgh East and Musselburgh constituency.

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