Scottish Borders Liberal Democrats hope to be the 'comeback kings' at May's Local Elections

The Liberal Democrats are hoping to be the comeback kings at May's Local Elections in the Scottish Borders.

By Paul Kelly
Friday, 4th March 2022, 8:16 pm
Euan Robson.
Euan Robson.

The Liberal Democrats are hoping to be the comeback kings at May's Local Elections in the Scottish Borders.

At the present time the council's political make-up consists of 14 Conservatives, nine Scottish National Party representatives, eight independents and only two Liberal Democrats.

Those Lib Dems are its leader Councillor Euan Robson, who represents the Kelso and Distinct ward and Councillor Kris Chapman, for Tweeddale West.

Mr Robson will be near the railway terminus in Tweedbank at 10.30am tomorrow, Saturday, March 5, with MSP Willie Rennie and many of the party's candidates set to fight May's Local Elections.

He will be highlighting the commercial opportunities for the Borders in the development of Tweedbank and discussing the desirability of extending the Borders railway to Carlisle.

This could prove a pivotal period for the LIb Dems, who recently enjoyed UK by-election success and appear to have emerged from the rifts which arose after their period as part of a UK coalition government.

But Mr Robson admits there is still a big challenge ahead if the party is to again be a major political force in the Borders.

He said: "We haven't closed out lists yet. We're aiming to cover as many seats as we can, around three quarter of the wards.

"We're obviously in a phase of rebuilding but we're aiming to do better than we did last time when we only got two seats. Our target is between six to eight seats. I think that would be a tremendous performance but we don't know where we will be in May. International events and everything else will play into the election results but we are looking to make advances."

The Lib Dems reached the pinnacle of their support in the early part of this century when they had eight to ten seats on the council, forming part of the administration for a time.

Mr Robson added: "We're looking to get back to where we were in the council before last when we were part of the administration. We had six seats then in the period up to 2017.

"Being part of the administration again will depend where the other parties end up in terms of numbers, including the independents, which is a big group split in two, with some in the administration and some independent of the administration.

"In three weeks we will be publishing a manifesto and we will base any decision on entering the administration on the policies in the manifesto and whether the other groupings agree with some of our proposals. We'd look for common ground so we could make advances for the Borders on a common policy."

The party will be campaigning particularly on advancing nursery education, for reforms in social care and social work services to be led locally, developing sustainability policies in terms of tree planting and electrification of the council's fleet of vehicles and on ensuring the council has an effective energy conservation policy.

Mr Robson added: "We'd obviously want to retain the two seats we have and regain the seats we were unsuccessful in last time, including mid-Berwickshire and Tweeddale East, both of which we had hoped to do well in last time. There's also Leaderdale and Melrose and we'd hope to regain a seat in Gala, where we have David Steel's granddaughter standing, Hannah Steel."