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Emma Roddick: I feel like I am 'missing out' not returning as a councillor for Inverness Central despite still representing the ward as MSP for the Highlands

By Emma Roddick

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MSP Emma Roddick.
MSP Emma Roddick.

It was a true honour in 2019 to be elected in a by-election to represent Inverness Central ward as their councillor – the ward which covers Merkinch, where I live.

I do, of course, still represent Central alongside the rest of the Highlands and Islands in the Scottish Parliament, but my time as local councillor will always be very special to me.

It’s strange to think that, due to a General Election being held shortly after my election in November 2019, quickly followed by Christmas, New Year, and a global pandemic, I haven’t had the chance to meet colleagues or the fantastic Highland Council staff on whom I’ve relied so much.

Catching my Group Leader for a campaign session in Wick last year, we naturally joined for a hug – before suddenly realising it was the first time we’d ever met each other off-screen!

But for all that the pandemic changed my experience as an elected member, it also provided opportunities. Had I not been in the role during lockdown, I’d have been stuck inside alone. I instead got to cycle back and forth across the ward doing big shops and posting cards to loved ones on behalf of constituents and neighbours – all sustainably, on an electric trike kindly provided by WheelNess.

I swapped out Town House meetings with online meetings, surgeries for chats in gardens. I volunteered tens of hours with Mikeysline, supporting anonymous people through difficult nights. It was not the experience I expected when my name first appeared on the ballot, but it was unpredictably worthwhile and meaningful.

I admit I’m feeling a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) hearing how inductions are going after the election last week. There is a joy in local government I’ll miss, regardless of the important work going on in Holyrood, and I feel a little disappointed not to be working with some of the fantastic new councillors the Highlands just elected – in my own party and others. While, undoubtedly, experience has been lost, turnover of councillors and ideas can only be healthy.

Turning to that important work going on in Holyrood, I recently took part in a debate on sexism in football, highlighting shocking statistics around the experience of women players who’ve suffered sexism and harassment just for playing and loving the game.

During a month where I have also saved evenings in the hope of business finishing on time for me to scoot to Firhill and Arbroath for kick-off, I, of course, had Inverness Caledonian Thistle on the brain, too. I told the Chamber of the comments made by ICTFC when they stepped in to save Thistle Girls FC, a local team who, without that fast, positive action, would have become dormant. The club stated their commitment to promoting and growing football for women and girls.

It was a very proud moment for the club, and it is hard to overstate the importance of statements like this in solidifying the place of women in the game in the Highlands.

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