Councillors’ value is called into question

HAWICK’S six councillors came under the spotlight this week.

And according to one member of the public some ‘do not appear to be pulling their weight’.

Former police chief Watson McAteer, who was an unsuccessful candidate at last year’s elections, addressed ward members at a meeting of the Teviot and Liddesdale Area Forum.

He asked: “As our elected representatives, what are you doing for Hawick and district in securing jobs, providing help for struggling businesses and supporting the elderly and the young?”

And it received an angry response from committee chairman George Turnbull who refused to give details of his work in the Hawick and Hermitage ward.

Accusing Mr McAteer of ‘playing the daft laddie’, he said: “The community council used to have a councillors’ spotlight section but that was like watching paint dry and was a case of who was busier than who.”

While it was said that much of the work had to be surrounded in secrecy. Councillor Zandra Elliot said: “A lot of what we do is of a confidential nature.”

The role of the former Hawick Regeneration Group came under discussion and it was revealed that the Hawick six are working together, without initial assistance from the local authority, trying to tackle particular areas and issues.

Councillor Ron Smith said: “We are meeting regularly as a group of six because through working together we’re going to get further. There is no point squabbling.

“I don’t like the idea of each councillor trying to blow their own trumpet. When we had such a slot on the agenda it has been a competition and nobody wants to be number six and have nothing to say.”

Councillor Smith told the meeting that part of his remit in the group was to look at what can be done about the number of derelict buildings in the town.

He said four had been identified – two in each ward – although he refused to confirm what the particular buildings were.

Work with groups associated with the park is also being undertaken, while meetings are planned with shopkeepers.

Councillor Stuart Marshall said: “I think it’s important we all work together, with our MPs and MSPs, for the bigger picture of bringing jobs to the town.

“It’s up to the public if they think they’re getting value for money from me.”