Meet your seven candidates

With just two weeks left before electors head to the polls for the Leaderdale and Melrose by-election, we’re giving a page over to the seven candidates this week.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 2:50 pm
Scottish Borders Council's Newtown St Boswells headquarters.

The current Covid-19 restrictions have made campaigning in the normal fashion impossible for the candidates, with knocking on doors and public hustings not on the list of options.

However, all seven candidates have accepted the Southern’s invitation to join a virtual hustings this Friday, February 26 at 2pm, so they can let residents know where they stand on various matters.

Electors can join the hustings on the Google Meets app, which will be chaired by news reporter Kevin Janiak, by visiting on Friday at 2pm.

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Jonny Adamson, Scottish Liberal Democrats

Electors aged 16 or over in the ward, which includes Tweedbank, Melrose, Earlston and Lauder, are eligible to vote in this by-election, which was called following the sad death of SNP councillor Kevin Drum last year.

Polling stations will be open as normal, however a range of measures will be in place to ensure that those who wish to vote in person can do so as safely as possible, including adherence to social-distancing guidelines and the wearing of face coverings.

One candidate will be elected using the single transferable vote system, meaning electors should vote by numbers, ranking candidates in order of preference from 1 to 7.

Electors are asked to take their poll card to the polling station when casting their vote, although it is not essential.

Mary Douglas, Independent.

Here’s what the candidates had to say.

Jonny Adamson, Scottish Liberal Democrats: Having engaged with hundreds of people across our community in the last year, I’m worried that so many, like me, don’t feel heard on issues affecting their lives. The spending decisions of the present administration are woeful. As a result, our roads are not fit for purpose, bus services are under threat, playparks are being closed, recycling services reduced, green spaces not always maintained and public CCTV systems aren’t being funded. Our council has to do better. We need a constructive approach which is focused on building back better, not on party politics. One that prioritises real investment in our public services, not further cuts. And a commitment to start properly listening to our community and acting in people’s best interests. As your councillor, that will always be my priority. I promise to be an approachable, accessible, hardworking and energetic representative who will make sure your voice is being heard.

Mary Douglas, Independent: One of my priorities for the council will be increased clarity and accountability on finance and resource allocation. Many people in the ward are concerned about the planning process, permission is granted for developments seemingly without consideration of or for the infrastructure necessary to support them. Existing services are stretched to capacity for facing funding cuts; including the NHS, education, social work and roads, yet even more residential building is planned. The pandemic will change the way we in the long term, people are working from home, many permanently. Investment is needed in broadband and mobile phone coverage, particularly in rural areas, to support this new way of working. I have no affiliation to any political party, with my experience in public services and knowledge of the local community I believe I can provide a focus on the issues and problems faced day to day by the people of the Borders.

Jenny Linehan, Scottish Conservative and Unionist: I love Borders life – its people, its towns, the beautiful hills – and that is why I want to play my part in making it a better place to live. If I were to be elected, I would prioritise getting our local towns and villages back up and running after the significant challenges posed by coronavirus. Prosperity and quality of life in the communities in and around Lauder, Melrose, Earlston, Oxton and Tweedbank relies on making it easier to get businesses going again. I know that being a local representative means listening to voices from all walks of life. I would work tirelessly to make sure the issues that matter most are heard at the highest level. I want to make Leaderdale and Melrose an even better place to live, work, visit and invest in. That’s why I believe you should put your trust in me.

Jenny Linehan, Scottish Conservative and Unionist

Michael Needham, Scottish Green Party: The immediate priority is helping the Leaderdale and Melrose community to a Green recovery following the impacts of Covid-19 and considering how the new normal should develop. Travel in the Borders is still a necessity for many and the national drive towards electric and hybrid vehicles is great, but there also needs to be the growing infrastructure to support it. I would push the local authority towards increasing car charging provision, and aim to protect and improve local bus and train services. Saving the high street has become an increasingly important issue and people should be encouraged to shop locally from the many local, independent businesses. Other key local issues are: unemployment, low wages and the impact of new housing on local services.

John PatonDay, Scottish National Party: It is really important that our representatives within Scottish Borders Council understand the needs of local people. It is for this reason that I will be highlighting three issues in particular: roads, housing and recycling. After yet another cold and wet winter our local roads require urgent repair and improvement: we need to ensure all those using our roads can do so in the safest manner possible. With regard to affordable housing, I intend to call for increased investment to speed up the delivery of warmer, safer homes. It’s also vital we are able to do our bit to protect the environment and leave our Borders beautiful for the next generation to enjoy; however, many of our smaller villages are currently without facilities that make everyday recycling simple and practical. I will therefore be seeking greater provision of accessible recycling points for our towns and villages.

Scott Redpath, Scottish Labour Party: Born and bred in the Borders I’ve spent most of the last two decades as a shopworker, serving my community, getting to know the problems and challenges people face. I’m an experienced campaigner and an active member of the shopworkers union USDAW, successfully campaigning for changes in the law to protect my colleagues. Covid has shown the importance of working together and proved that it is through collective action, rather than constitutional arguments, that we best face up to the challenges of our times. I am a socialist and I believe that jobs, wages and public services are key to our recovery from the pandemic. I’ll campaign for better pay for key workers, a publicly-owned local bus system and ensure that funding provided to SBC gets to those who need it most quickly.

Karen Wilks, Independent: Currently, I am employed with Musselburgh Citizens Advice Bureau. I have witnessed a vast increase in the need for support due to Covid-19. These support issues have been predominantly around people losing their jobs, furlough, home schooling, businesses closing or not being able to freely operate as they would have once done, reduced income, additional energy costs and an increase in daily expenditure for both businesses and individuals. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact within our local communities and economy and, if elected, I will be able to draw upon the knowledge and experience I have gained in supporting these areas, and use them to support and encourage our local community, businesses and individuals in our recovery.

Michael Needham, Green Party.
John Paton Day, Scottish National Party.
Scott Redpath, Scottish Labour Party.
Karen Wilks, Independent.