Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker was this week asked if he felt the gloomy outlook for sustaining local authority spending and developing projects to stimulate the economy would deter people from standing for election on May 3, writes Andrew Keddie.
“I sincerely hope not,” he told The Wee Paper. “There are a great many Borderers who have views about the council and its work – and what better way to make a difference than by standing for election and making a real contribution to our region?
“The job of a local councillor is a difficult one and if you do the role well it requires long hours and great patience. It can be frustrating, but also immensely rewarding. At this time, there has never been a greater need to encourage new people to come forward to stand.
“We face difficult economic challenges because of the national economic picture and we must work around constraints from both Westminster and the Scottish Government, but councils do make a difference and we impact on the daily lives of Borderers more than any other tier of government.”
Mr Parker went on: “I would be very keen to see more young people coming forward. At 38, after being in local government for 17 years, I still hold the title of the youngest elected member on SBC and I would be delighted to lose that title at this election if some younger candidates would consider coming forward.
“We do have a good mix of age and backgrounds on SBC, but I am always keen to encourage new people and there is no point complaining about what we do if you are not willing to come forward and try and make a difference yourself.”
So far in the Selkirkshire ward, which will return three councillors, five candidates have been confirmed – sitting members Kenneth Gunn (SNP) and Vicky Davidson (Lib Dem), along with Gordon Edgar (Independent), Michelle Ballantyne (Con) and Leven Brown (Borders Party). Community council secretary Alistair Pattullo, who stood in 2007, will not take his chances this time round.
Anyone wishing to take up Mr Parker’s challenge is invited to attend the “Preparing for Elected Office” courses which are running until March 14.
“These talks and interactive sessions aim to provide interested individuals with a range of background information about such topics as the roles and responsibilities of elected members, the council and its functions,” said a council spokesperson. “Once elected, members are given the opportunity to attend an induction programme, and further training is provided to support them throughout their term of office.”
For more information visit http://www.scotborders.gov.uk/becomeacouncillor.