Councillors putting themselves in shop window in bid to sell their plans to voters

Hawick councillors Watson McAteer and Stuart Marshall in their premises in Hawick High Street.
Hawick councillors Watson McAteer and Stuart Marshall in their premises in Hawick High Street.

Two Hawick councillors hope to fashion election success for themselves after setting up a campaign office at a former menswear outlet in the town.

An election starting gun has been fired by independent councillors Watson McAteer and Stuart Marshall ahead of the local elections on Thursday, May 4.

Mr McAteer is contesting the Hawick and Hermitage ward this time around, and his current ward colleague Mr Marshall is aiming to retain his Hawick and Denholm seat.

The pair have joined forces to take up a temporary lease at the former David Thomson and Sons clothing outlet, located at the junction of the High Street and O’Connell Street.

It is to be used as their election headquarters in the two months running up to polling day.

More than 60 local people turned out for the official opening of the premises on Saturday and to seek advice on a host of local issues.

And the pair are hoping that the outlet, also formerly the LM Paton footwear shop, will not only be a way of engaging with potential voters every Saturday, from 9am to noon, but also provide the struggling town centre with more footfall by occupying a vacant unit.

Mr McAteer, currently representing Hawick and Denholm, said: “We have joined together to mobilise our election campaign from the High Street shop.

“The premises was officially launched at the weekend with banners and coffee welcoming all those who visited during the morning.”

The councillors plan to use the shop to publicise their campaign for election to both Hawick wards and believe providing some colour and presence in a normally-vacant shop helps brighten up the High Street.

On Saturday, over a three-hour period, they discussed a range of issues including roads, dog fouling, flooding and anti-social neighbours.

Mr McAteer added: “Utilising an otherwise empty High Street shop as a campaign hub is a great way of engaging with the local community.

“We are purposely only occupying the shop on Saturday mornings and will welcome anyone who has questions regarding the forthcoming elections or council services.

“We aim to provide a convenient drop-in centre that folk can use while shopping on the High Street.”

Mr Marshall said: “The High Street shop is a modern variant of the traditional councillors’ surgery, and we aim to make ourselves much more accessible ahead of the May 4 elections. We were very encouraged with the large number of visitors on our first official Saturday, and it’s a trend we hope continues over the next few weeks.

“We are happy to be visited or contacted by anyone who wants to know our election plans or who has any matters they want addressed.”

The other candidates so far known to be standing at May’s poll in Hawick and Hermitage are independent Davie Paterson and Conservative George Turnbull, and, in Hawick and Denholm, the SNP’s Alastair Cranston.

Liberal Democrat Ron Smith is not contesting his Hawick and Hermitage seat.

Election for the council take place every four years.

All councillors retire and are required to stand for election if they wish to continue to represent their wards.

To check if you are registered to vote, contact the elections office on 01835 825100.