I grow tired of Councillor Nicholas Watson’s continuing mantra that all councillors who are members of national political parties are told how to vote on local issues.
That has never been the case for any member of the local Lib Dems. His claim that he and his fellow Borders Party member were the only ones to speak out against handing over strategic planning to Edinburgh is just not true: I voted against joining.
His claim that local government should not have any connection with national political parties is naive. The Lib Dems have always been a local party with a voice in national government. The Lib Dems decided to go into coalition very aware of the damage it would do to the party’s support, but it was important that the best interests of people hardest hit by the financial crisis were represented.
For example, over the term of the coalition, at least three million low-paid workers will no longer pay tax on their earnings. We have restored the earnings link with state pensions and guaranteed that pensions will rise by at least 2.5 per cent each year.
The people who will benefit are local people – you cannot separate local government from national government – but that does not mean outside control. We are first and foremost a local party.
The SNP government is committed to centralise many of our local services and without a voice in government we have little chance of preventing the loss of these local services.
Being a member of the Scottish Borders Council is about protecting our services, our education. We have to work like never before to find jobs for our young people, to provide at the very least meaningful work experience for school leavers.
We as a council must work to bring new business opportunities to the Scottish Borders – this cannot be done in isolation.
Cllr John Paton-Day
Scottish Borders Council