CRAIG Bryson, bidding to become the youngest-ever elected member of Scottish Borders Council, has ditched the Labour Party and will stand in the Hawick and Denholm ward as an Independent, writes Andrew Keddie.
Mr Bryson, 19, was keen to point out last week’s error in these columns which stated he would represent Labour at the May 3 local government polls.
“It’s true I have been a member of the Labour Party for the past three years, but recently resigned my membership because I disagree with a number of policies,” revealed Mr Bryson.
“A key plank of my election campaign will be to set up a focus group comprising councillors, our MP and Borders MSPs because I believe, regardless of political persuasion, that constituents must come first and nothing is more important than jobs and the local economy. Through this focus group, I would aim to attract as much inward investment as possible to Hawick and Denholm, whether it be large companies or small and medium-sized enterprises.”
The Scottish Labour Party will, however, be represented in Hawick and Denholm by Michael Grieve who is standing on a joint Labour/Co-operative Party ticket. Aged 43 and a full-time carer, Mr Grieve is a non-MSP member of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on carers.
“I joined the Labour Party at a time when local government was being cut by a Conservative Government at Westminster, and now we have a Scottish Government run by the SNP which is taking the Conservative cuts, increasing them and passing that on to local government,” said Mr Grieve, who is a member of Burnfoot Community Council.
“It is areas like Hawick and Denholm that are being affected the most, and it was recently shown that the child poverty rate in this ward is sitting at 26 per cent – twice that of the neighbouring Hawick and Hermitage area. One child living in poverty is one too many as far as I am concerned and the council cannot just sit back and say that the money from the Scottish Government is ‘a fair settlement’ when it means cuts to services and cuts to jobs.”
Meanwhile, a new Independent challenger has emerged in the Selkirkshire ward in the shape of management consultant Gordon Harrison who lives in the Ettrick Valley. Vice-chairman of Ettrick and Yarrow Community Council and chairman of Ettrick Village Hall Committee, Mr Harrison came to the Borders in 1999 and, for a few years, ran the Tushielaw Inn near his home.
“My six years on the community council has opened my eyes,” said Mr Harrison.
“I have seen the political bickering that goes on and cannot help feeling we would be better served without a party-political agenda.”