Last-minute Clovenfords constituency plea allowed

A LAST-ditch bid to stop Clovenfords being annexed from neighbouring Galashiels in a new Westminster constituency will be made next week, writes Andrew Keddie.

Councillor Gavin Logan, who lives in the village, has been given leave to make a submission to the Boundary Commission, even though the official deadline for consultation on its recommendations passed on January 4. The commission’s recommendations will go to the Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, in the spring

In December, Mr Logan won the support of Scottish Borders Council which voted 25-6 to reject a proposal under which the entire council ward of Tweeddale East, comprising Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Clovenfords, would have become part of a new Midlothian and Tweeddale constituency which will also include Penicuik, Dalkeith and Bonnyrigg.

Clovenfords, with a population of nearly 500, is currently in Mr Moore’s Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk seat which will be otherwise unchanged under the Boundary Commission proposals.

Galashiels-born Mr Logan, one of three Tweeddale East councillors, said he had asked the commission to extend its deadline because of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

“I was told that although the commission was not legally obliged to do so, it would endeavour to consider my representation if it was submitted by January 18,” he said. “Given the council’s overwhelming support and the large number of residents who have emailed me, I remain hopeful that common sense will prevail.”

In his submission, Mr Logan will tell the commission: “Clovenfords residents feel very strongly that the status quo must be maintained. They wish to be represented by a member of parliament who is not remote. They are concerned that a Midlothian-based MP will rightly have to focus on the more populated part of the constituency with which Clovenfords has no connection.

“Clovenfords and Galashiels are only slightly over a mile apart, 30mph limit to 30mph limit. Children from Clovenfords Primary go on to Galashiels Academy.

“Because of the close proximity to Galashiels, the residents of Clovenfords use Galashiels almost exclusively for shopping, leisure and medical needs. The Borders General Hospital is no more than seven miles away and villagers are predominantly employed in Galashiels and the central Borders.

“The present MP [Mr Moore] has his headquarters in Galashiels and lives in the town.

“Clovenfords was always part of a Galashiels council ward until the onset of multi-member wards in 2007 and was only included in its present ward [Tweeddale East] to balance out numbers. The village has a relatively small number of voters and will make little difference to either Westminster constituency.

“Clovenfords has, for centuries, been in Selkirkshire and is in the Roxburgh, Selkirkshire and Lauderdale Lieutenancy. Its church shares its minister with a church in Galashiels [Trinity].

“Villagers are serviced almost exclusively by the Galashiels and Selkirk trades while our farms are similarly serviced by central Borders agricultural merchants, engineers, vets, auctioneers and have always had a rural MP who is familiar with their problems.

“To sum up, Clovenfords has strong historic, economic, social and cultural ties with Galashiels, Selkirkshire and the central Borders – and none with Midlothian.”