Peace breaks out in the council chamber

Peace has broken out between political groupings on Scottish Borders Council.

By Paul Kelly
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 12:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th May 2022, 12:59 pm
Council leader Euan Jardine and SNP opposition leader Elaine Thornton Nicol say they will work together to make the administration more "politically-inclusive".
Council leader Euan Jardine and SNP opposition leader Elaine Thornton Nicol say they will work together to make the administration more "politically-inclusive".

A spirit of consensus and collaboration were on the agenda when newly-elected members held their first meeting today, Thursday, May 26, since the local elections.

It was also an historic day in the council chamber with the 34 members gathering face-to-face – rather than via video link – for the first time since the pandemic.

On Thursday, May 5, the Borders public returned 14 Conservatives councillors, nine SNP representatives, seven independents, three Lib Dems and one Green Party member.

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And a Conservative/Independent-led administration is now set to lead the council forward over the next five years.

But there was consensus across all political groupings when it came to the today’s council agenda, with depute leader councillor Scott Hamilton appointed unopposed and membership of committees, working groups and the representation on other bodies agreed without dispute.

The aim for collaborative working has been led by the new council leader councillor Euan Jardine and endorsed by the leader of the SNP group, councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol.

Mr Jardine proposed changes to make the administration more politically inclusive, after stating that “all 34 members of this chamber should have a voice”.

He said: “I want to establish a cross-party working group, the membership of which will reflect the overall political make-up of the council, no later than June 9, to work on proposals for a change to the scheme of administration.

“Proposals and changes were worked on in collaboration with Elaine Thornton-Nicol and discussed with other group leaders. We all understand that to move forward we must do so collaboratively. I am under no illusions that we will clash on some items, but that happens in politics and life, but we really must utilise the talents and experience across this chamber to deliver for the people of the Borders.”

Councillor Thornton-Nicol added: “This is an opportunity and we have worked very hard to get to a point where changes are beginning to happen, and it’s change that is needed because we were elected by people to represent people and we need to make the changes so that the focus is on people.

“I really appreciate the time and effort, many phone calls and emails, that have taken us to this very positive point.

"As the leader said we will clash, I won’t deny that, but that’s life and politics. We are passionate about our own parties, but we are all passionate about the people who elected us.

"So, please, collegiate and collaborate for people because we need to make the Scottish Borders the best place to live, work, play and grow older.”