Councillor Turnbull in ‘misled’ claim

Councillor George Turnbull has been accused of misleading the public at an Area Forum meeting in the Town Hall on Tuesday night.

And former councillor Andrew Farquhar has called on the Mr Turnbull to consider his position, and he is claiming that the misleading information “could have a serious effect on the forthcoming public consultation process”.

In a letter this week to Councillor Turnbull, who also chairs the Teviot and Liddesdale Area Forum, Mr Farquhar, a former independent Scottish Borders Councillor and the man behind the High Street regeneration initiative, wrote: “Having attended the two most recent Area Forums I find that you as chair have misinformed the public on a very important point regarding the electoral boundary Fifth Review process by stating that certain decisions had already been made regarding councillor numbers.”

“This is not the case and such misleading information could have a serious effect on the forthcoming public consultation process if not corrected.

“In their brief guide you can learn from the commissioners in Section 6 about “ What happens after we make our recommendations?”. I advise you to read this then you may wish to consider your position.

“This is a serious issue and it will most certainly require some form of public statement to clarify the confusion and misunderstanding this has caused.”

During a meeting which was stormy at times, Councillors Turnbull, Smith and Paterson defended their positions on the Boundary Commission’s plans to cut Hawick’s quota of councillors from six to four with both Mr Turnbull and Mr Paterson claiming the decision has already been made.

This has angered several members of the public as well as representatives from local Community Councils with Gwen Crew from Denholm, who was clearly furious at the prospect of her village forming part of a Jedburgh super-ward, saying: “We just can’t sit back and accept this.”

Councillor Turnbull hit back at claims he’d misled the public, saying that the Boundary Commission has agreed the reduction of councillors in “principle” and “while it is potentially an option for the commission to change its recommendation in respect of Councillor numbers” he claims that Mr Farquhar’s assertion that there is a chance of challenging this is giving members of the public “false hope”.

In a letter to Mr Farquhar, he said: “At the meeting I thought you were conveying misinformation regarding Hawick being the most deprived area of the Borders and that no account had been taken of deprivation in the Boundary Commission plans.”