Opposition councillors asking for seats on Borders council’s executive

Stuart Bell and fellow Tweeddale East councillor Shona Haslam.
Stuart Bell and fellow Tweeddale East councillor Shona Haslam.

Opposition councillors are asking for a power-sharing deal with Scottish Borders Council’s Conservative-led administration.

Opposition councillors had previously been given seats on its executive committee, but that ended after council leader Shona Haslam and her Tory colleagues took control of the council in May last year.

At today’s full council meeting at Newtown, councillors will vote on a motion from Scottish National Party opposition leader Stuart Bell to clear the way for the executive to welcome back nationalist members.

Tweeddale East councillor Mr Bell said: “I have long held that an organisation makes better decisions if it takes into account all points of view, even those it disagrees with.

“Taking account of opposing views is not only one of the principles underpinning John Stuart Mill’s views on free speech, but a society, or a committee, or a council, cannot legitimately call itself democratic if it doesn’t countenance opposing viewpoints.

“These were driving forces behind my support in the last administration for opening up three places on the council’s executive for the opposition.  

“The Tories were the principal opposition in the last council and at first they took up those three places.  

“Although after a couple of years, Conservative members resigned from the executive, they did so with no formal explanation, and we left the places open.

“I was deeply disappointed that the first practical decision of the incoming Tory-led administration in 2017 was to abolish opposition places on the council’s executive, again with no substantive explanation.”

Out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, only five draw their executives solely from their ruling administrations.

The full council meets at 10am today, June 28.