Rules set for Selkirkshire hustings meeting

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THE six candidates seeking election to the Selkirkshire ward at the Scottish Borders Council elections on Thursday, May 3, will take part in a hustings meeting later this month, writes Andrew Keddie.

The event, organised by Selkirk Community Council, will take place in Selkirk Parish Church hall from 7-8.30pm on Thursday, April 26.

Presiding at the hustings will be community council chairman Graham Easton and questions to the candidates should be in writing and submitted in advance to Mr Easton (31 High Street, 01750 722744).

Each questioner must be identifiable, a constituent of the Selkirkshire ward and on the electoral role.

The candidates – Michelle Ballantyne (Con), Leven Brown (Borders Party), Vicky Davidson (Lib Dem), Gordon Edgar (Ind), Kenneth Gunn (SNP) and Gordon Harrison (Ind) – will be invited to speak in turn for no more than three minutes, during which interruptions will not be permitted.

Each candidate will then be invited in turn to respond to the questions from the floor. Spontaneous verbal questions will not be permitted, although exceptions may be allowed if, at the discretion of Mr Easton, they are deemed relevant and for clarification purposes. No candidate shall respond to questions for longer than two minutes.

The format was agreed at a meeting of the community council last Monday night when all three of the present SBC incumbents elected in 2007 – Davidson, Gunn and Carolyn Riddell-Carre (Con) – delivered their monthly reports.

Mrs Riddell-Carre, who is not seeking re-election for Newtown, listed what she considered three of her achievements over the past five years: supporting the planning application from Scotbet to take over the former Post Office in Selkirk’s Market Place; the adoption of a “proper” investment policy for the capital reserves of the Common Good Fund; and, as chairman of the latter’s working group, bringing meetings to Selkirk – something that had not happened for 30 years.

Mr Gunn told the meeting: “There have been many things I have been involved in since I was elected. The pavement up the Yarrow Road was a weed-strewn dirt pathway where now it is a proper pavement up to the Corbie Linn corner.

“Thornfield housing estate has a new roadway with the upper part of Scott Crescent promised an upgrade where it has worn through. The street lighting in Market Place and the trunk road part of High Street and Tower Street has been upgraded and we have a new bus shelter in Market Place.

“It has been an honour to serve the burgh as one of your councillors.”

Ms Davidson confined herself in the early part of her report to giving community concillors what they expected: a monthly update of SBC issues affecting the town, including SBC’s approval of the flood protection scheme; good progress on cash bids for the town centre heritage initiative; an electrical problem at the Scott Courtroom which was being repaired, although the facility was in need of “complete refurbishment”; and the completion of four dropped-kerbs at Tait’s Hill.

But, as a parting shot, Ms Davidson reasserted her support for the return of SBC’s area committee system, largely dismantled two years ago despite the protestations of the Lib Dems at Newtown.

“The Eildon Area Committee was an excellent and effective forum for the town, particularly on planning matters, and should be restored,” she added.