Author Archives: Mike Harrison

Who makes on this deal?


Most people in Midlothian are familiar with Persimmon Homes. They’ve built many new houses in Dalkeith, Bonnyrigg and Gorebridge. What most people won’t know is that last week the company announced a record 25% increase in their pre-tax profits, to almost a billion pounds. That’s a £61,000 profit on every house they built in 2017.

And what did they do with those record profits? They gave them back to their shareholders, who will receive £4.1 billion over the period 2012-21, more than double the amount they had previously been promised. In order to fund this magnanimity, the Chief Executive of Persimmon had to agree to a cut in his bonus from £110m to a penny-pinching £75m.

Let’s put this in perspective. The annoyance of the Persimmon shareholders that they weren’t being paid enough for the effort of putting money into a guaranteed pay-back scheme led to the boss shuffling off £35m from his account into those shareholders’ coffers. Thirty five million pounds. In one year. Enough to plug the entire Midlothian Council budget deficit for the next three years. And the Persimmon boss will still have £75m this year alone, on top of his salary.

In conventional economic terms, the housebuilding business is massively successful. In moral and social terms it is bankrupt. In Midlothian we have thousands of people who cannot afford the houses that are on offer and who need and deserve social housing. But we carry on approving thousands of private houses that no-one in this county can buy, sending millions of pounds into the coffers of Persimmon and their ilk which should be getting re-invested into our communities here.

The system is bust and we need politicians with the guts and the nous to stand up and get it changed. We need a land value tax so that local authorities and their communities get some benefit from the increase in land prices that comes from getting a planning consent. And we need local authorities to be back in charge of building houses for affordable social rent.

Unless we take back control of house building from the mega speculators we will continue to see the obscenity of single individual “entrepreneurs” being paid more than would keep the whole of Midlothian Council going. It has to stop.

Malcolm Spaven
Co-Convenor, Midlothian Green Party

Malcolm Spaven

Penicuik by-election

Midlothian Greens select parent campaigner for Penicuik by-election

Helen Armstrong is selected by Midlothian Green Party members to contest the Penicuik by-election for the Scottish Green Party on the 22nd March.

Helen has lived in Penicuik with her family for more than eleven years, and currently chairs the Penicuik High School Parents’ Association. She is a consultant ecologist who has campaigned to protect primary school playing fields; who is passionate about protecting Midlothian’s green spaces, and who wants to see strong communities being built, not just mass housing.

Helen said:

“I love Penicuik’s strong sense of community, the friendliness of the people and the huge range of activities that take place, largely run by committed volunteers. The voluntary groups and Council-run facilities which make Penicuik a special place to live need strong support from Midlothian Council and if elected I will fight hard to protect them.


“I joined the Green Party because I believe we are the only party that understands the connections between economic, environmental, community and personal health and wellbeing. Our vision for Penicuik is one where local businesses thrive and provide fulfilling jobs in a clean, green environment and where schools, healthcare and housing really meet the needs of local people.

“The voting system for Council elections means that there is no such thing as a wasted vote and I urge Penicuik voters to give their number 1 vote to Midlothian Greens to call for a different, and a better, way forward for Midlothian.”