Student hopes to become region’s youngest councillor

Caledonia Bhatia, 18. Candidate for Galashiels and district.
Caledonia Bhatia, 18. Candidate for Galashiels and district.

A teenage student from Peebles is the youngest candidate standing in next month’s Scottish Borders Council elections.

Caledonia Bhatia, 18, a chemical engineering student at Edinburgh University, has been selected as Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for the Galashiels and district ward.

No stranger to political life, Caledonia is the daughter of outgoing Tweeddale West councillor Catriona Bhatia and granddaughter of Liberal Democrat grandee Lord David Steel of Aikwood.

Caledonia said: “I have always been interested in the council, with both my mum and granddad being involved.

“I used to go out and deliver leaflets for my mum and was out at every hustings supporting her.

“I knew at some point in my life I would want to get involved in politics, but I’m not sure I ever thought I would be so young.”

She added: “My mum is definitely a big support to me. She has warned me not to get too caught up in it, though. She has been really helpful.

“I think my granddad was a bit shocked, to be honest, when I told him.”

Brought up in Eshiels, Caledonia went to Halyrude Primary School and Peebles High school, where she served as head girl, before moving to Edinburgh last year, where she is almost through her first year’s studies.

With four councillor slots up for grabs in the ward, Caledonia is up against seven other candidates including three current councillors standing for re-election.

Undaunted by the prospect, Caledonia says a fresh face could be what the area is looking for.

“Obviously they are going to know the current councillors, but they may not be happy with their current ones,” she said. “Some people want a fresh face and someone new.

“As I am a bit younger it will be interesting to see what happens with it.

“I do think the council definitely needs to shift a lot more towards the younger generation.

“I am up for the challenge.”

In line with her daughter’s ideas of change, Mrs Bhatia added: “I am not seeking re-election as I feel that having been a councillor for 14 years I have achieved what I can for the communities of Tweeddale and the Borders.
“It is time for fresh thinking and new energy in the council.

“The Liberal Democrats have an impressive group of candidates for this election who will bring a combination of experience and enthusiasm to the role of councillor.”

A total of 19 of the 75 candidates seeking seats on Scottish Borders Council on Thursday, May 4, are female.