Norman joins Lib Dems as line-up announced

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FORMER independent councillor Nancy Norman will stand for the Lib Dems in Peeblesshire at the local government elections in May.

The Kirk minister, who is soon to retire, whose switch of affiliation was announced this week, will contest the Tweeddale West ward in a bid to re-secure a place on Scottish Borders Council (SBC).

Mrs Norman, who was elected to one of the two former Peebles wards on SBC in 2003, polled 627 first preference votes when she fought the revamped Tweeddale West division in 2007, finishing fourth of the six candidates and thus failing to capture one of the three available places.

Catriona Bhatia topped the poll five years ago and she has also been formally reselected this week to fight the same ward.

In neighbouring Tweeddale East, which stretches from Peebles to Clovenfords, the Lib Dems have again opted for Graham Garvie who is SBC’s executive member for community learning, culture and sport and was a chief executive of the long defunct Tweeddale District Council.

The party was double-handed in that ward in 2007, but Councillor Garvie will be the Lib Dems’ sole hopeful on May 3.

The Lib Dems currently have 10 out of SBC’s 34 councillors and, as such, they share power with 12 Conservatives and four independents, including council leader David Parker.

The local government elections in the Borders will be a barometer of the Lib Dems’ fortunes which waned so markedly at last year’s Holyrood polls when they were reduced to just five MSPs – a notable casualty was Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale’s Jeremy Purvis.

Noticably out of the public eye since his defeat by the SNP’s Christine Grahame, Mr Purvis this week commended the three Tweeddale hopefuls.

He said: “I have known Catriona, Graham and Nancy for many years and all three are fine, experienced and able people who, between them, have a track record of a total of 35 years’ successful public service in Tweeddale.

“They all share priorities for the area they will represent, including providing stimuli for the local economy to help sustain and create local jobs, resisting centralisation and returning decision-making to local communities, investing in education and young people and ensuring that the elderly and vulnerable are protected and supported. In my view, Tweeddale could not have a better team of councillors.”

Ms Bhatia said “I am delighted to have been reselected and once again will be campaigning and seeking support from the diverse communities across the area from Tweedsmuir to Carlops, Broughton to Peebles North.

“I am also very pleased to be joined by Nancy Norman who was a superb local councillor from 2003-2007 and will add strength to the Lib Dem team.”

Mrs Norman said: “I really enjoyed my service as a councillor and hope to have the opportunity to do so again with two excellent colleagues who have served the people of Tweeddale so well.”

Mr Garvie said he was pleased and very proud to have been reselected.

Another former councillor on the comeback trail is Gordon Edgar, who will stand as an independent in Selkirkshire.

Like Mrs Norman, Mr Edgar, who was portfolio holder for technical services prior to election defeat, finished fourth out of six candidates in his ward in 2007.

But he remains staunchly of the view that party politics should not govern how local council services are provided.

“They should be delivered purely to address the concerns and aspirations of Borderers and an independent voice is necessary to ensure this happens in a fair and equal way,” said Mr Edgar who recently stood down as chairman of Selkirk’s community council.