Independents on way back, says Watson

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Although unable to take direct comfort from the polls, Borders Party leader Nicholas Watson this week claimed that independent local politics are “on the way back”.

The party, which still opposes the Borders railway, failed to add to its two seats, but Mr Watson claimed that, after crunching the numbers, its vote had risen from 5 per cent to 10 per cent to top 3,755.

Mr Watson held on in Leaderdale and Melrose while his colleague Sandy Aitchison topped the poll for a stage one win in Galashiels and District.

“This was a very strong performance, entrenching us as a coming force in local politics,” insisted Mr Watson. “It was encouraging to see support from across the political spectrum.”

He described as “good news” that fact that independents had claimed seven seats, up three,, while the UK national parties’ share of the vote had fallen substantially.

“The issues the voters really care about at a local level had a better airing in this campaign and independent local politics is on the way back in the Borders,” he added.

Independents had considerable success. The three most emphatic winners in the region were David Parker (Leaderdale and Melrose), Michael Cook (East Berwickshire) and Stuart Marshall (Hawick and Denholm). David Paterson, who refused to align to the outgoing Tory/Lib Dem/Ind administration, romped home in Hawick and Hermitage and Jedburgh plasterer and ex-Callant Rory Stewart has a seat for his home town. Bill White, chairman of the town’s community council, was successful in Galashiels and District as was Gordon Edgar in Selkirkshire.

Mr Edgar was the only former SBC member to win after electoral defeat in 2007 when he was portfolio holder for technical services.

“I agree with Mr Watson’s analysis, but have to question why he felt the need to stand under a party banner,” said Mr Edgar, who replaces the SNP’s Kenneth Gunn.

“The election vote represents, more than anything, a rejection of the arrogance of those parties who have led SBC like a one-party state for the past five years. I for one will not countenance an administration which does not put Borderers before any party political considerations at all times.”