Pro-Union campaigners accused of ‘hi-jacking’ Milngavie lights switch-on

Jo Swinson Better Together weekend
Jo Swinson Better Together weekend

TRADERS have accused politicians of ‘hijacking’ their Christmas lights switch-on last Saturday afternoon – to campaign for a ‘no’ vote in the 2014 referendum over Scottish independence.

The festive event was organised by Milngavie My Way/Business Improvement District (BID) – which is chaired by Ian Lavrie, who is also the owner of Townhead Carpets in Milngavie and chairperson of Milngavie Traders Association.

He arranged for STV weatherman Sean Batty to perform the official switching-on ceremony and there was also a fairground, DJ, live music provided by Westerton Male Voice Choir and food stalls – selling all sorts of festive fare.

The festivities kicked off at midday and the lights were turned on at 5pm.

Mr Lavrie said the politicians were there from midday to 2pm.

He told the Herald: “The Liberal Democrats and Labour Party set up at either end of the precinct to ask people to sign their petition.

“I felt they were jumping on the bandwagon of our event.

“I was really very angry about it and I asked them when they were leaving.

“It’s very unfortunate that they chose this day to campaign for the ‘no’ vote.

“They obviously picked a time when they thought plenty of people would be in the village.”

Councillor Rhondda Geeekie, leader of the Labour group at East Dunbartonshire Council, said: “The street stall on Saturday was part of a national Better Together Campaign and had been in other town centres that day. The organisers would have been unaware of the switch-on event, although I understand there were no complaints from the public.

“The stall did not interfere with the festivities.”

MP Jo Swinson added: “Last weekend was the second of Better Together’s national campaign weekends across the whole of Scotland and it happened to coincide with the Milngavie Precinct official Christmas lights switch-on.

“Our Milngavie stall was only from midday to 2pm and then we had a stall in Kirkintilloch until 4pm.

“With the campaigning over, I made it back to Milngavie in time to join in the celebrations when the fantastic Christmas tree and other decorations were lit up. Well done to Ian Lavrie and the BID team for organising it.”