Leader “thrives on a challenge”

When Shona Haslam was named leader of the council shortly after her election in 2017, many were surprised, given her relative inexperience.

Councillors Shona Haslam and Stuart Bell.
Councillors Shona Haslam and Stuart Bell.

And the former director of Asthma UK Scotland came under fire from our readers following her repeated unsuccessful attempts to be elected to higher office (to the European and UK parliaments in 2019 and the Scottish Parliament earlier this year).

Her fellow ward councillor in Tweeddale East, Stuart Bell, who is also the leader of the SNP opposition at the council, has often locked horns with Mrs Haslam politically, but says he wishes her well after she decided to step down from her leader role.

He told us: “I am genuinely pleased for Councllor Haslam that she has found a new challenge.

"Life is transformation; and Shona is someone who, it appears to me, thrives on challenge.

"As the first female leader of Scottish Borders Council I think she has brought a different approach, though that is necessarily constrained by the formalities of the position.

"As leader of the administration she has at times strongly defended policies which we, as the Opposition have – at times – equally strongly opposed.

“The public viewing such debates might think that is all there is to local politics. But as a ward councillor, Shona has consistently taken a collegiate approach and worked both within our ward, and with all the Tweeddale councillors, to respond to constituent’s needs and concerns; and to deliver the best for all the towns and villages in Tweeddale.

“I wish her well in her next venture.”