City region exerting a controlling influence

Thank you, Bill Chisholm, for illustrating last week the steady erosion of local control.

Powers over policing, tourism and ambulance service in the Borders, as well as health, transport and strategic planning, now rest with unelected, unaccountable boards and authorities across south-east Scotland.

Some of these bodies manage services which cross council boundaries, so why, you may ask, shouldn’t we work with our neighbours and save money at the same time? A convincing argument, but look out, these bodies are not just managing services, increasingly they are making policy.

For instance, SESplan, the new city region authority, is charged with producing a strategic development plan for south-east Scotland. No other document will so influence the way the Borders develops over coming decades.

For all their sins, I would rather have locally-elected councillors deciding what sort of place the Borders should be – at least we know who they are and where they live, and can get rid of them if we want. But in 2007 the lure of the Big Table was too great and they chose to join Edinburgh city region.

Only the two Borders Party councillors spoke up against this folly, and voted against handing strategic planning powers to an expensive, unaccountable body which has already shown it does not understand the needs and qualities of the Borders.

Violet Baillie

Rowan Cottage