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Dunfermline candidate refuses to be drawn on school closures plan

Susan Leslie said it would be 'absolutely wrong' to state a position on the issue ahead of a Fife Council vote.

Susan Leslie, Liberal Democrat candidate for the Dunfermline by-election on October 24 2013.

The Liberal Democrat candidate in the Dunfermline by-election has declined to state a clear view on whether controversial school closures in the town should go ahead.

Susan Leslie, who sits on Fife Council’s education committee, told STV News it would be wrong for her to express a position before hearing the arguments on both sides.

The council is due to vote on plans to close several schools after the by-election on October 24.

Ms Leslie said the “case hasn’t been made”, though she later acknowledged that parents campaigning against the closures had “a very, very strong voice and ... a good case.”

She claimed voters were “embarrassed about what has happened in Dunfermline over the last year or so” and wanted “a hard-working MSP” for the town.

“They know that’s what they had with the previous Liberal Democrat team here in Dunfermline,” she said. “They want to go back to business as usual. That’s what I’m offering.”

The by-election was triggered by Bill Walker’s resignation following his conviction on 23 counts of domestic abuse relating to his first three marriages. Walker, 71, was elected for the SNP in 2010 but the party expelled him when the allegations first came to light.

But when pressed on the issue of school closures, she said: “The case hasn’t been made and I think it’s important to remember that. At the moment I need to have a good case made to me one way or the other.

“We’re campaigning to listen to the parents’ voices and the parents, I think, have a very, very strong voice and they have a good case. They’re bringing forward issues that really need to be given very serious consideration.

“I think it would be absolutely wrong of somebody who may have a position to vote on at a later date to make that position clear before we have heard the arguments one way or the other.”

The seven candidates for the Dunfermline seat are Shirley-Anne Somerville, SNP; Cara Hilton, Scottish Labour; Susan Leslie, Scottish Liberal Democrats; James Reekie, Scottish Conservatives; Zara Kitson, Scottish Greens; John Black, Independent; and Peter Adams, UKIP.

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