Rural council ballot
set to divide residents

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A proposal to create the smallest community council in the Borders will split residents over a £4million wind farm payout “myth”.

Ballot papers have been sent to residents in the Newcastleton and District area for a vote on the proposed boundaries of a new community council, which would have just 118 residents.

However, one of those behind the bid for a new council has said residents are split on the issue.

John Scott has also denied rumours that it is being set up in order to funnel community fund cash from the proposed Windy Edge wind farm development to the new area.

He said: “I expect the vote will be overwhelmingly rejected by the villagers and embraced by the rural residents.

“There’s this myth that the new community council are trying to get hold of this development money over and above the villagers, which just isn’t true.”

Mr Scott said wind farm developers Infinis had stated that more than £4million could be made available to the community, but insisted it was “pie in the sky stuff”.

He added: “The wind farm is very minor in the reasons for moving this request for a new community council.”

Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull has been involved in the boundary discussions, but is sceptical about the proposed community council’s effectiveness.

“Newcastleton Community Council has been back up and running for a year now and has gone through three chairmen already.It’s sometimes hard to find people to fill spots that require quite complex work from them,” he said.

When asked how he would feel if asked to vote for the new community council, Mr Turnbull replied: “I’d have reservations, based on possible activity and effectiveness.

“If I was being cynical, there has been a proposed wind farm application and it’s funny how a certain group are trying to break away now.”

If given the go-ahead by Scottish Borders Council, Upper Liddesdale and Hermitage Community Council would take over from Carlops as the smallest local council in the region.

The proposed boundary for the new community council area would begin at Old Castleton and run to the northern-most boundary of the existing community council area.

Voting on the proposal will close on Friday, June 7.