Musselburgh racing bosses enjoy big win as Caldwell loses seat
The racing leadership of Musselburgh is hoping for "a bright new dawn" for the racecourse after the controversial chairman of the track's governing committee failed to retain his place on East Lothian Council.
John Caldwell, who had twice been the subject of no-confidence votes by racecourse staff, came 36 votes short of re-election in the Musselburgh ward he had previously represented.
The new-look East Lothian Council will now need to select a replacement chairman to the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee, which comprises four council appointees and three members of the Lothian Racing Syndicate.
The latter's membership has for some time been engaged in a fierce battle with Caldwell that led to the BHA placing the racecourse on a temporary licence, due to expire at the end of June.
The Racing Post last month revealed civil war has been fought for some time at Musselburgh, which according to the LRS had been "heading towards disaster", largely, it claimed, due to Caldwell's leadership.
Among the LRS allegations was that up to £100,000 in legal fees had been wasted by the MJRC, including money spent on a report into staff grievances that was ultimately ignored. Staff morale was said to be low, evidenced by threats of industrial action and removal of the racecourse's Investors In People status.
In turn, Caldwell insisted blame for the track’s perilous position is down to the its racing wing, and claimed the LRS is attempting to prevent him making inquiries on behalf of the MJRC.
Musselburgh general manager Bill Farnsworth said on Friday: "We hope this enforced change will herald a bright new dawn for this racecourse. It’s been an incredibly difficult situation from my point of view and for all of the racecourse staff.
"We’ve never disguised the fact the staff didn't think John Caldwell was the right person to be chairman of the MJRC. The electorate has decided he's not the right man to be a councillor, and we must see now who takes his place.
"We're certainly looking forward to working with the new person, whoever that will be, and let’s hope all our problems are behind us."
Farnsworth also called for a change to the structure of the MJRC, adding: "Having four councillors and three from the LRS on the MJRC doesn't work - the structure has failed in recent years and the staff would welcome a review. A more balanced committee would be much more effective.
"On too many occasions it’s been a committee of four making the decisions and not seven. The four members of East Lothian Council on the MJRC have always had the majority and been able to do what they want."