Isobel Scott is to be congratulated on her letter regarding ward boundaries in last week’s Hawick News. Her arguments are both lucid and based on facts which can be substantiated. Regrettably any such arguments will fall on deaf ears at Newtown St Boswells where 28 councillors are sitting smugly, caring little that the Hawick wards are to be torn apart.
Discussion on the subject at the area forum was something of a disappointment. A letter from SBC hierarchy read out by chairman George Turnbull reminded councillors of the gospel according to Parker, and questions from the floor confirmed the split in the Hawick camp.
What we have at the moment are two councillors who are prepared to fight for the status quo, three who seem to think they have done enough by supporting council proposals for their own present ward with little regard for the future, and one councillor who is content to abstain on the whole issue. Nor does it appear that we are likely to get a united front anytime soon.
What seems to have become forgotten in this debate is that nothing has been decided, and that any decision, when it is made, will be made by Scottish Government ministers; not Scottish Borders Council and not the Boundary Commission. Both the council and the commission can make submissions, but they are no more than that.
If the Hawick wards and their councillor numbers are to remain intact, public pressure needs to be exerted, and in this respect it was somewhat disheartening to read Cllr Turnbull’s comments that a challenge would only raise false hopes. At a time like this Hawick and the surrounding communities need crusaders and leaders, not defeatist politicians.
Decisions made by SBC may have placed restrictions on councillors, but those who are prepared to fight will find a way. Those who step back from the fray will not be regarded as victims, but as the agents of their own fate.
Mrs Scott is correct in urging the community to write to the Boundary Commission expressing its concerns about the proposed changes. Public opinion counts for much and governments tend to listen to strong voices.