WHEN the deadline for nominations closed last Thursday afternoon, 72 candidates had emerged to contest Scottish Borders Council’s 11 multi-member wards at the local government election on May 3.
Coincidentally, that is exactly the same number of hopefuls who threw their hats in the ring at the last council poll in 2007. Five years on and any disillusionment with politics appears to have been cancelled out by calls, notably from current leader David Parker, for “new blood” to come forward.
However, 28 of the sitting 34 councillors, including Mr Parker, will seek to retain their places (and pensionable salaries) at Newtown. The sextet not going for another term are Tories Neil Calvert, Carolyn Riddell-Carre and Alasdair Hutton, and Lib Dems Jock Houston, David Raw and Jim Hume, the last named having weathered criticism that he could not adequately perform the dual roles of councillor and South of Scotland MSP.
Joining these two parties in fighting all 11 wards are the SNP, currently with six councillors and hoping the Holyrood landslide of a year ago will be replicated at local government level, and the Borders Party, which appears to have dropped its overtly negative stance on the rail link return and propounds an intellectual independence unencumbered by traditional party politics. Labour will try to break its duck by putting up eight candidates, while only 13 of the 72 aspirants will stand as Independents.
Kelso and District ward has the distinction of having most candidates, with eight going for the three places. Galashiels and District, which uniquely returns four councillors, has seven contenders, including community council chairman Bill White.
z A full list of candidates and their addresses can be viewed on the website of Scottish Borders Council which is reminding those not registered to vote that they have until April 18 to do so.
“Residents can print off the relevant form from aboutmyvote.co.uk, or call us on 01835 825100 to check if they are registered to vote,” said Mark Dickson, SBC’s electoral registration officer. “It just takes a few minutes.”
A council spokesperson said the local authority was not in a position to estimate how many eligible adults in the region were not currently on the electoral register or to speculate on the reasons.
The deadline for new postal vote applications, changes to existing postal votes or changes to existing proxy votes is also April 18. New applications to vote by proxy must be in by 5pm on April 25. Emergency proxy applications will be accepted up until 5pm on polling day – May 3.