Community Council in crisis as three more quit

HAWICK Community Council is in crisis this week after suffering another three resignations from its already depleted numbers.

The stricken Community Council — which last week received resignations from John Robertson and Jim Rowan — is now seriously reduced following the resignations of Vice-Chairman Billy McWatters, Stuart Marshall and Ian Scott.

This trio of resignations follows on from the departures this year of Brian McLeod, Jenny Wilson, Ann Purvis and Rob Anderson, which now means that Hawick Community Council no longer meets the criteria of its constitution.

The constitution states that: "in the event of the number of elected Members of the Council, in the interval between elections, reducing to less than one-half of the maximum number specified in paragraph 4.1 (a), a by-election shall be held not later than two months after this reduction occurs."

The maximum number the body could have totals 18 members, therefore with nine being half of that number, and Hawick Community Council now only boasting seven — it seems a by-election will be imminent and that 11 new members will be needed to fill the shortfall.

The three latest resignations are the latest in a turbulent year for Hawick Community Council, which has seen two failed attempts to remove Mrs Elliot from office following in-fighting and an alleged rift with Hawick's Scottish Borders Councillors, as well as legal threats and a group walkout. And in his letter of resignation to the Secretary, Stuart Marshall cites these reasons for his decision, stating: "Over the last few months I have felt that the Community Council has become further and further distracted from its duties and that it is failing in its functions to put the real issues facing our town at the top of its agenda."

Fellow resignee Ian Scott also alluded to these recent difficulties, stating: "The aim of all Community Councillors should be the betterment of Hawick, but the present situation, with on-going resignations, can only be bad for Hawick."

In his letter Vice-Chairman Bill McWatters only said it was a decision he had taken after "careful deliberation."

The Community Council now comprises of remaining members Edna Tait, Billy Welsh, Helen Ford, Gilbert and Evelyn Sangster — co-opted members with full voting rights — and Treasurer Rob Nicholson. And as they still have "quorum" — the minimum number of people needed to hold a meeting — Chairman Mrs Elliot says she is confident that the Council can still function effectively.

She told the 'News': "I feel just as determined as ever and do not believe there is a crisis or a need for a by-election, we will just get our heads down and get on with things."

However, the 'News' understands that with only seven members, now two short of the minimum, a by-election will be required two months after the resignations are officially recorded by the town hall department that acts as an advisor to the Community Council. However, a spokesman at Corporate Resources was unable to comment yesterday (Thursday) because they were yet to be officially notified.

During a by-election anyone on the voter's role, within the area of Hawick Community Council, can put themselves up for election as long they have completed a nomination form with the backing of a proposer and seconder, who are also on the voter's role.