Local elections: Wards 10 and 11 declared, and epic overall victory for the Conservatives

Watson McAteer, David Paterson and George Turnbull - Hawick & Hermitage councillors
Watson McAteer, David Paterson and George Turnbull - Hawick & Hermitage councillors

It’s all done and dusted at today’s local election count in Kelso’s Springwood Hall, and it is a new-look Scottish Borders Council that will be looking after our interests for the next five years.

Thirteen of the last term’s councillors did not stand for election this time round, and several more, including some high-profile candidates, have lost their seats.

Stuart Marshall, Clair Ramage and Neil Richards - Hawick & Denholm councillors

Stuart Marshall, Clair Ramage and Neil Richards - Hawick & Denholm councillors

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, thanks to some outstanding results in Mid Berwickshire, East Berwickshire, Kelso and Jedburgh, blew away the opposition with 15 out of the 34 seats. The SNP were second with nine, while the Lib Dems took two.

The balance of power will be with the Independents, who took eight seats.

Conservative Party leader Michelle Ballantyne, who told us earlier she hoped to be able to deliver a dual mandate as councillor and list MSP, now says she will have to conduct talks with the independent councillors to hopefully form an administration.

She told us: “It’s absolutely fabulous. I think it’s a real vindication of the work that we have done over the last five years, with our sitting councillors all being elected first preference, and our new team that are coming in a great bunch of people with a hell of a lot to offer the Borders.

“We have campaigned on the issues that matter on the doorstep, and we have got a fabulous results. I couldn’t really have asked for more.”

The wards were declared thick and fast by the end of play, with Hawick and Denholm and Hawick And Hermitage rounding matters off.

In the former, Hawick provost Stuart Marshall, an independent candidate, won first preference, with Conservative candidate Neil Richards coming second and SNP’s Clair Ramage third.

And in the Hawick and Hermitage ward, voters stayed with what they knew as independent Watson McAteer took first preference, Conservative George Turnbull second and independent Davie Paterson third.

An average of 51.9% of voters turned out – a fairly high percentage for a local election.

So, that is, as they say, that at Kelso. But there is a lot of bargaining and moving and shaking to be done before our new council takes shape.

See next week’s Southern Reporter for the latest in-depth coverage.