Councillor Davie Paterson was told he could “sit in the toilet” during an ongoing spat between the town’s SBC and Community Councillors.
The row erupted again towards the end of Tuedsday’s Area Forum meeting in Tower Mill when Mr Paterson questioned Community Council chair Marion Short over seating arrangements at the previous evening’s Community Council meeting the Town Hall.
Mr Paterson, who did not attend the town hall meeting has been critical of seating arrangements and is accusing Marion Short of driving a wedge between the two groups. He has also asked an official at St Boswells if community council funding can be withdrawn if the matter is not resolved.
At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Paterson asked Mrs Short: “When are you going to invite the town’s Scottish Borders Councillors to sit with Community Councillors at your meetings? We are all working together for Hawick and we should all be sitting together. There is a feeling that we are being excluded and it’s not acceptable”
Mrs short replied: “I am hearing what you are saying. I am also hearing from other people who were here long before me and they tell me that the SBC councillors sat in the public gallery.”
After a brief exchange between the two, Community Council vice chair, Rob Brydon roared: “Councillor Paterson, you can go and sit in the toilet for all I care.”
Amidst laughter, Mr Paterson hit back: “That’s really cheeky. As an ex-officio member of the community council I am entitled to more respect than this .” Mrs Short replied: “It is certainly not our intention to exclude anyone.”
Clearly exasperated at the escalating situation, Area Forum chair George Turnbull said: “Davie why don’t you just sit where you want?”
Mr Turnbull then brought the meeting to a close but in an e-mail to the Hawick News on Wednesday morning, Mr Turnbull wrote: “I am disappointed that the level of exchange between an elected Scottish Borders Councillor and Hawick Community Councillors has dropped to such a low level. I do not know or understand why Councillor Paterson is making this matter a crusade.
And in an e-mail sent to Mr Turnbull on Thursday morning asking for a meeting to resolve the situation, Davie Paterson asked: “George is there a reason that you do not want to support the rest of the Hawick Councillors against the stance that Marion Short is taking against us? Do you not think we should all be working together instead of all this needless conflict?”
However, Councillor Paterson received some support from Councillor Ron Smith who said: “While I am not hugely aggrieved, I can see where Councillor Paterson is coming from. I think it would be more appropriate for us all to sit at the community council table. I think it would contribute to a feeling that we are all at the same meeting and by sitting at the same table we would achieve this.”
Councillors Alistair Cranston and Stuart Marshall said they did not have any problems with the seating arrangements.