McAteer hits back over ‘simple question’

I am disappointed but not surprised at the personal attack launched by Councillor Elliot in last weeks’ News.

I am being accused of waging campaigns of sour grapes and negativity all apparently on the basis that I had the audacity to ask our elected councillors a question.

The facts are straight forward. Since the local elections in May 2012 I have asked our elected councillors one question (twice) seeking an explanation of what they are individually doing for Hawick.

I chose the area forum to ask the question – that’s the new re-invigorated forum launched by Scottish Borders Council in November 2012 with the strap line ‘Get Involved’ and fully supported by Hawick’s councillors.

The forums are described as: “a ground breaking new way for you to get involved in local issues that really matter to you.”

That is just what I have done quite simply because there are local issues that do matter to me and many others.

I fail to see how participating in such events can be anything but positive, it is after all what we have been encouraged to do.

I have not challenged the actions of the councillors, indeed I have recognised and praised the efforts of a few who clearly are working hard for their constituents. I have publicly supported councillors working together, but been clear that by definition, this means they must ‘all’ pull their weight.

In terms of accepting defeat ‘with good grace’ contrary to the reported 263 votes I actually received a total of 1134 votes over first, second and third choice preferences, a combined total more than those similarly received by Mrs Elliot and indeed Alasdair Cranston and perhaps an indication of the actual wishes of the electorate.

However, the single transferable voting system uses a complex formula to distribute votes which ultimately relegated me to fourth place a position I have fully accepted without any previous reference or fuss.

We live in a democracy with rights to free speech won at very high cost. I don’t mind being challenged about my views, indeed I encourage it, but to face speculative and inaccurate accusations – particularly from a previously respected, elected and paid representative – is at best poor judgement and will do nothing to encourage others to take an active involvement in community matters.

I can only assume that Councillor Elliot’s letter has been scribed in a way intended to intimidate or bully me into remaining silent, a position I am unlikely to adopt.

This issue starts and finishes with one question to our elected councillors: “What are you doing for Hawick?”

It seems a simple enough question but the effort being made to avoid answering may cause readers to ask why and, like me, they will no doubt draw their own conclusions.