Community councillor quits to boost interest

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Unless community councillors are elected, they are not truly representative of their communities, says one Earlston councillor who has now quit.

Councillor John Paton-Day told The Southern he can no longer remain on the village’s community body.

And he says there will be many other community councillors around the Borders, unelected by voters, who 
also feel uncomfortable about the situation they find themselves in.

“There are a number of reasons for my decision, the main one being that I, along with most community councillors across the Borders, was not elected by a vote to represent the community – we are there by default as not enough names are put forward to trigger a vote,” Mr Paton-Day told The Southern.

He went on: “The general opinion for this lack of interest is that people are not interested or are happy with the status quo.

“I do not agree, it is my belief that not enough energy is put into informing the 
community of the value of community councils and of being a member, especially around community council elections.

“There are changes coming to the set up of our community councils and I hope that those changes will go some way to encourage more people to put themselves forward.

“I know that there are many that do not agree with me, but I have to be true to what I believe.

“I shall continue to stand up for Earlston, Redpath and district and will continue to do all I can to encourage 
others to put themselves forward for election to our community councils and hopefully in the future we will have true representation.”

Trevor Jones, chairman of the Community Councils Network in the Borders, sympathises with Mr Paton-Day’s stance.

He told us: “John would like community councils to be stronger, as we all would, and feels the best way for that to happen is to have elections. The problem is if you don’t have enough people coming forward to trigger an election, what else can you do?”

And, as if to underline the problem, there was news this week that the Jed Valley Community Council will be going into abeyance for six months, after the failure to raise the required minimum of six valid nominations.

Scottish Borders councillor Sandy Scott, Returning officer, said: “I have no doubt that the absence of a community council in the 
area will be felt over the 
next few months until I am able to call for nominations again.”