The resignation of the Borders’ youngest councillor has been criticised by two former members, claiming it will cost taxpayers £30,000.
John Paton-Day and Kenneth Gunn have spoken out after Tweeddale West representative Nathaniel Buckingham announced he would be standing down, just 14 months after being elected, due to work and family commitments.
However, the 30-year-old Conservative member – who admits his political career is now over – said he had to make the decision to do justice to his constituents.
Mr Paton-Day, who lost the Melrose and Leaderdale by-election to Borders Party member Iain Gillespie in May after being ousted from the ward in last year’s elections, says the role of a councillor has huge responsibilities.
He added: “It is not there as an extra income to bolster company pensions or second-job salaries.
“It is true that there are many committed councillors and it would be wrong to ignore the important work they do just because of a few.
“This is not a problem that affects just the Scottish Borders, it is a problem across Scotland.”
And writing to The Southern this week, Mr Gunn – who was displaced as a Selkirkshire councillor in 2012 – says there should be no place for “part-time” representatives.
Also criticising the resignation of Borders Party leader Nicholas Watson in February in order to relocate to Cumbria, Mr Gunn wrote: “If we are to spend another £30,000 on a by-election yet again, can we not perhaps encourage any other elected councillor who cannot give full-time commitment to the job to declare it now and we can have one by-election to get rid of the parttimers in one fell swoop?”
Yet, Mr Buckingham, a civil engineer consultant, said he had mulled over the decision for a couple of months and described it as “the hardest decision to make with the largest impact on the local community and party”.
He told us: “I have taken some time to think about it, but felt that if I did not do this, I would be coasting along.
“I have not been fully focused or fully committed to any aspect of my work.”
He added: “It (resignation) probably does draw a line under my political career. I have never had huge political ambitions and decided to stand in order to serve my community.
“I am sure I will continue to serve the local community, but in a different role.”
Scottish Borders Council says a date has not yet been confirmed for the by-election in Tweeddale West.
Letters – page 28