Parties at odds over town bypass

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Scottish Borders Council has supported a call for the Scottish Government and trunk roads authority Transport Scotland to review the case for a Selkirk bypass, writes Andrew Keddie.

But after watching the Newtown debate from the public benches, Gordon Edgar, who will stand as an Independent candidate for Selkirkshire on May 3 at the local government elections, claimed the issue had been “hi-jacked by party-political interests”.

He said: “This was an unedifying example of party politics, rather than public interest, informing important decisions.”

The approved motion came from Selkirkshire Liberal Democrat councillor Vicky Davidson who also wanted the council to urge the Scottish Government “to work with SBC in a more proactive approach” to delivering the bypass.

But SNP councillor Kenneth Gunn pressed for this sentence to be removed from the motion, claiming the Lib Dems had held power in the Borders for more than 40 years and had failed to deliver a bypass project first mooted in 1936.

His amendment failed, although Ms Davidson agreed to remove the word “more” to qualify the proactive approach she sought. That did not assuage the SNP, but, on a division, the motion was carried by 26 votes to five with Mr Gunn, a passionate advocate of a bypass, abstaining.

Also watching the debate was Michelle Ballantyne who is seeking election in Selkirkshire for the Conservatives.

She said: “I watched with a mixture of disbelief and amusement as Mr Gunn, who I know wholeheartedly supports the bypass, in his eagerness to avoid a perceived slur on the SNP government, felt he had no choice but to abstain on a motion requesting a review of the case for the bypass.

“The first loyalty of councillors must be to the people they are elected to represent.”