Two new faces join Hawick’s six-strong line-up on Scottish Borders Council

Stuart Marshall, Clair Ramage and Neil Richards, Hawick and Denholm's councillors.
Stuart Marshall, Clair Ramage and Neil Richards, Hawick and Denholm's councillors.

Independent councillors Stuart Marshall and Watson McAteer were emphatic victors in the two Hawick wards at last week’s Scottish Borders Council election.

Former honorary provost Mr Marshall earned a third term at Newtown, winning at every ballot box in Hawick and Denholm and polling 2,283 first-preference votes – a massive 63.3% share of a 50.5% turnout of electors.

Watson McAteer, Davie Paterson and George Turnbull, Hawick and Hermitage's councillors.

Watson McAteer, Davie Paterson and George Turnbull, Hawick and Hermitage's councillors.

Also successful in that six-cornered contest were two newcomers, Conservative Neil Richards and the Scottish National Party’s Clair Ramage, with first-preference vote shares of 16.5% and 13.3% respectively.

The defeat in that ward of Ian Turnbull, in fourth place with a first-vote share of just 3.9%, means it is the first time since Scottish Borders Council was created in 1995 that Hawick does not have a single Lib Dem representative.

Mr McAteer, a former senior police officer, switched wards to fight for a Hawick and Hermitage seat, and that move paid off as he triumphed with 1,496 first-preference votes.

That 43.2% share of the votes put him ahead of fellow sitting councillors George Turnbull, a Conservative, and independent Davie Paterson as they were re-elected with shares of 26.4% and 19.2% respectively.

Young SNP hopeful Iain Whyte came fourth out of four with 11.2% of the vote.

Across the region, it was the Conservatives, after five years in opposition, that dominated, returning 15 of the region’s 34 councillors and unveiling a 22-strong ruling coalition administration with seven of the eight independents voted in, including Messrs Marshall and McAteer.

Excluded from that power-sharing arrangement are the nine SNP and two Lib Dem councillors, along with Mr Paterson, executive member for environmental services in the last administration.

The new leader of the council will be newly-elected Conservative Shona Haslam, a charity worker from Peebles voted in as a representative for Tweeddale East.

Ex-leader David Parker, an independent representing Leaderdale and Melrose, will become convener with special responsibility for health.

Their appointments will be ratified at a special council meeting next Thursday.

Announcing those choices on Tuesday, Conservative group leader Michelle Ballantyne said discussions were still ongoing regarding the enhanced-salary, special-responsibility roles in the new administration.

However, the Hawick News understands that George Turnbull will be appointed to the key role of executive member for finance, in charge of an annual revenue budget of around £250m and that Messrs Marshall and McAteer will also be offered senior posts.

The former is expected to become chairman of the new Teviot and Liddesdale locality committee, a replacement for the old area forum and have an annual budget to spend on local projects.

The latter is being tipped to become chairman of the monitoring police, fire and safer communities board.

Although both men declined to comment on those possible job offers ahead of a formal announcement, Mr McAteer said he would be comfortable about joining the new administration.

“I have had an assurance that, as an independent, I will have a choice to follow the direction of my electorate, rather than be forced to tow the administration line,” he said.