Capital's first and only profoundly deaf councillor to seek re-election

Independent councillor Ashley Graczyk has announced she is standing for re-election.

The Capital's first and only profoundly deaf councillor, who quit the Tories over the party's policies on disabled benefits, is campaigning on tackling waste problems and opposing more student accommodation in her Sighthill/Gorgie ward.

She said: “My campaign is focused on the most important issues for local residents, namely keeping our community clean and free from waste, creating new, affordable housing rather than endless blocks of student accommodation and protecting our parks and green spaces.

"Waste management is a huge issue in our local area, whether it be overflowing bins, dumped and flytipped items or dog waste. I have personally logged well over a thousand reports of waste and flytipping in the ward on behalf of residents in the past few years.

"Our area is the worst impacted by waste in the whole city, and we need urgent action on this issue which I will spearhead.”

She said if re-elected, she would demand the revival of a plan to pilot free waste collections for large items for local residents in the ward and an increase in street cleaning resources.

"The current waste collection fee creates a financial barrier and penalises the many people in our area who do not have private vehicles to visit the dump,” she said.

Councillor Graczyk is emphasising her record as a local campaigner on community issues, including her opposition to new purpose-built student accommodation blocks rather than affordable social housing.

“Gorgie, Dalry and Westfield are being relentlessly targeted by Purpose Built Student Accommodation developers and I will continue to campaign against their planning proposals because affordable accommodation should be prioritised in our area.

“I am the only local councillor who has stood up to unscrupulous developers seeking to bring unsustainable student megablocks to our community. I have successfully led community campaigns to oppose unsuitable proposals at the Scotmid and Dalry colonies sites, protecting the amenity of local people.

"I will continue to fight for new affordable housing in my ward and for Edinburgh council’s existing policies to protect balanced communities to be strictly enforced.”

She also argues the protection of parks and green spaces is key to the city’s economic recovery following the pandemic.

“We have all seen the vital importance of parks and green spaces to our mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic. I will seek to protect our local green spaces, supporting Friends of Parks groups and community-led projects to upgrade our local parks, paths and public spaces, making them accessible and welcoming for residents of all ages.”

Cllr Graczyk was elected to the council in 2017 as a Conservative, but resigned from the party in July 2018, saying the UK government's policies on disability issues and social justice were "incompatible with her beliefs and conscience".

She said she had seen people reduced to tears because of Universal Credit and other benefits, including Access to Work.

She has served as an independent councillor since then and also stood in last year’s Holyrood elections as an independent candidate on the Lothian list.

Published in Edinburgh News | 29th March 2022