Time for change at the council

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It appears that just two years after introducing a new decision-making structure at Scottish Borders Council, things are set to change.

The revamp of the executive/scrutiny model in 2012, which had been in place since 2001, and reintroduction of self-scrutinising service committees was opposed at the time by the Conservatives, who wanted an independent call-in mechanism retained. As a compromise, the changes took place on the understanding it would be reviewed after 18 months.

Now, having spoken to SBC’s 34 elected members, it appears the majority don’t think the current arrangements work, with a significant number feeling they are unable to keep tabs on the overall picture.

Instead, they want a system that is more accountable, with an all-party scrutiny committee – scrapped in 2012 – revived and given more powers.

So, depending on the outcome of discussions, out will go the three main committees – education, social work/housing and environment/infrastructure, and in will come ‘themed’ versions of the executive which will meet quarterly.

At a time when our national political system is undergoing change following the referendum and more people are engaging with politics at a local level, it is hoped a possible reduction in committees sees our councillors using that extra time to get more involved with their communities, ensuring any changes are truly meaningful and that the people that voted them in can see councillors’ accountability in action.