Gala councillor ‘had to leave’ administration

Harry Scott, left, and Shona Haslam, right, failed to see eye-to-eye over the proposed site of the waste transfer station.
Harry Scott, left, and Shona Haslam, right, failed to see eye-to-eye over the proposed site of the waste transfer station.

Independent Galashiels councillor Harry Scott has said he and the ruling administration had to part ways yesterday (Thursday) due to “two fundamental disagreements”.

He said differences of opinion over the waste transfer station at Easter Langlee and the proposed closure of the Bordercare service and its move to East Lothian meant he had to leave the ruling group, which he joined following the May local elections.

However, he said there was “no animosity” in the split.

He met with council leader Shona Haslam yesterday, and the two agreed that, due to irreconcilable differences with regards to policy and direction, he could not remain a member of the administration.

Councillor Haslam said: “For many years Councillor Scott has been a strong and vocal advocate for the residents of Galashiels and I greatly respect that.

“I have always encouraged members of the administration to give their views on issues and it is right and proper that we hear all of those views.

“But, at the end of the day, we all have to be working towards the same goal.

“While Mr Scott has always taken a strong and principled line, in the six months since the election, it has become clear to us both that we wish to move in different directions.

“As a result, Mr Scott and I have agreed that he would be best placed to do this outwith the administration.”

Mr Scott said: “In any administration there has to be a commitment to collective responsibility, and that is what I have had difficulty with.

“My first loyalty is to the people who voted for me and what is in their best interests, and if that clashes with the policies of the ruling administration so be it.

“I have had two fundamental disagreements, over the waste transfer station and the proposed closure of Bordercare and its move to East Lothian.

“It puts Shona Haslam in a difficult position as leader of the Conservative-led administration, who rightly expects loyalty from her administration, and shackles me to some extent in what I can say in public. It was therefore thought best that I leave the ruling administration to give me that freedom.

“ I would like to emphasise that there is no animosity associated with my departure, and I have made it clear that if I deem it in the interests of my constituents I will support any policy brought forward by the ruling group, however, by being outwith I will have the freedom to scrutinise and challenge issues as I see fit.”