SCOTTISH Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson has urged Borderers to vote in the council elections – even if it was not for her party.
Fears have grown that the turnout could sink to 25 per cent across Scotland, with the elections not being coupled with parliamentary polls due to 2007’s spoilt votes fiasco.
But speaking at the launch of Borders Conservatives’ campaign, Ms Davidson emphasises the importance of people turning up to their local primary schools, and village and church halls across the region on May 3 to vote.
She told TheSouthern: “I think any indication that this might be a low turnout is sad because when I speak to people on their doorsteps across the country, nine times out of 10 the issues that come up are local ones.
“No matter what your political views, to have a stake in your own community, you have got to partake in the democratic process. What happens at council level really does matter.”
Ms Davidson told the Tory candidates, who hope to once again be part of a ruling coalition administration at Newtown St Boswells, that the council elections were the first step towards resurrecting the party in Scotland.
Praising the work of Conservative councillors in the Borders, she said: “This has been a council which has been marked by real financial prudence, real value for money, and a real sense of rural priorities.
“You only have to look at the way they have tackled the problem of alcohol, which is way ahead of the Scottish Parliament.
“They are also trying to take a more disciplined approach to wind farm issues.
“We have a great mix of experience councillors and new candidates. I hope very much the people of the Borders will return the Conservatives as the largest group so we can carry that good work on.”
Outgoing Conservative SBC leader Carolyn Riddell-Carre said the party would “keep our options open” as to who they would be prepared to work with in a joint ruling group, after a five year spell in power alongside the Lib-Dems and Independents.
But aiming a broadside at the Borders Party, she added: “They were against the railway but now want it to go to Carlisle.
“They were against the crematorium in Melrose, saying a black fog would hang over the town but it has been a success and not spoilt the environment.
“We want to work with people we can trust.”
Mrs Riddell-Carre described the Tory influence on Newtown as a steady pair of hands, and said their ambitions for the Borders were in line with what the cash-strapped local authority could afford.
She told us: “During our time, we have built three new secondary schools and refurbished and built five new primary schools, while all our schools have broadband.
“We have helped to draw up guidelines on where you can or cannot put wind farms. “We realise our landscape, along with our people, is the Borders’ greatest asset and we need to protect them.”
Adding her support to Ms Davidson’s plea for Borderers to vote, Mrs Riddell-Carre said: “These elections are very important as it is at local level where people get exorcised about street lighting, planning matters or pot holes in the road.
“It is important the elected councillors bring a sense of purpose and honesty to these matters.”