Axe set to fall on two councillors

Councillor Watson McAteer
Councillor Watson McAteer

Hawick is set to lose two of its six councillors at the local elections in two years’ time, under proposals by the boundary commission.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland is aiming to standardise the number of constituents a councillor represents.

The most dramatic change would see Denholm included in a huge ‘super ward’ with Jedburgh and Hermitage which would take in St Boswells
and stopping short of Earlston.

Throughout Scotland, sixcouncillors face the chop with Hawick scheduled to lose two.

Councillor Ron Smith is calling the move “preposterous” and fellow ward member Davie Paterson says the poropsals are “totally unacceptable” and is urging his fellow councillors to fight the plans.

The commission’s plans state: “Our proposals provide for 1,217 councillors representing 351 wards in Scotland: a decrease of six councillors and two wards from the existing electoral arrangements.”

Local councils are currently being consulted and the planned cuts will go out to a 12-week public consultation between July and October this year. With a final report containing recommendations to be submitted to Scottish ministers by May 2016.

Speaking to the Hawick News, Mr Paterson, who has been a councillor for 27 years, said: “I want to see the other Hawick councillors get behind me on this and fight the proposals. When this is debated at the council I will be arguing against it.

“The people of Newcastleton do not want to be included in a huge ward with the
likes of Jedburgh and St Boswells.”

Both Councillors Ron Smith and George Turnbull oppose the changes.

Mr Turnbull said a ward running from Newcastleton to Earlston will be “unworkable”.

Mr Smith added: “These plans are preposterous and unacceptable. The aim is to lose six councillors from the whole of Scotland with two coming from Hawick. This will happen. The debate will take place but it will go ahead.”

Councillor Stuart Marshall said: “Reducing the numbers to four will impact on how Hawick is represented at Newtown – not good for democracy”

Watson McAteer said: “These proposals are radical and will leave local residents bereft of full and effective representation. As far as Hawick is concerned, any reduction in councillors will by definition significantly impact our ability to influence the political chamber. I am concerned that this is being proposed when the voice of Hawick needs to be heard louder than ever given what we are seeing develop in the so-called central Borders.”