AN ocean rower and a community council chairman are among four new Borders Party candidates who will fight the Scottish Borders Council elections on May 3.
“We’ve some good people lined up,” enthused leader Nicholas Watson after this week’s announcement.
The apolitical movement, founded on a ticket which included opposition to the railway project, has vowed to fight all 11 of the region’s multi-member wards.
Mr Watson, one of two Borders Party councillors returned in 2007, announced that David Pye, chairman of Peebles Community Council, will contest the Tweeddale West ward which includes Peebles, West Linton and Broughton.
Mr Pye, from an agricultural background, has worked in financial services for 21 years and has run his own independent advisory business in Peebles since 2003. He also serves on the board of the Scottish Borders Housing Association.
“I believe strongly in local decision-making and tailoring services to local needs,” said Mr Pye. “The Borders Party is focused on making local government serve people and it represents the best way forward for Peebles and Tweeddale at council level.
“Local communities should have a much greater say in what is appropriate for their specific locality. Only by working closely with individual communities is it possible to deliver the most appropriate plans and services.
“I am acutely aware of the difficulties people are facing at the moment in terms of finances, starting and running a business or finding and providing good quality housing, and I am keen to use my experience in these sectors.”
In neighbouring Tweeddale East, including the area of Peebles south of the Tweed along with Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Clovenfords, the Borders Party is fielding Frances Pringle who runs a horticultural business and lives in Clovenfords.
“For too long the council has been dominated by national parties whose political agendas often clash with local interests,” said Mrs Pringle. “We need to re-assert the independent tradition in local government and the Borders Party is the best way to do that.”
The Selkirkshire seat will be contested for the party by ocean rower and land navigation consultant Leven Brown who hails from Melrose and lives near Denholm. Mr Brown, 39, with three crew members, currently holds the world record for the longest distance rowed in a single day in an ocean rowing boat (118 miles) and last year published a book about land navigation techniques.
“It has always struck me in politics that one of the grave eccentricities of our democracy is that a councillor can be elected with very few votes and given so much power,” he said.
“Not only that, but loyalties must be split between what their political party headquarters expects them to do and what the electorate expects them to do. Government, whether local or national, is not nearly as accountable to the people as I think it should be.
“There should be more governance by consensus rather than trying to divide people’s loyalties into different camps. In the Borders Party, we are committed to looking after our local communities. We will be the eyes and ears of the people inside the chamber at Newtown.”
Finally, in East Berwickshire, the Borders Party will put its faith in former journalist and event organiser Cat Macdonald-Home.
“We’ve some good people lined up and hope to confirm prospective candidates in all wards in the next month,” said Mr Watson. “We won two seats on SBC last time and, with the excellent candidates we have announced this week, we hope to do better still in May.”