New Borders Party launched
is one of the headlines in the electronic Berwickshire out yesterday. In the absence of any good golfing stories at this end it is just worth publishing in full.If this new party is fully supportive of attempts to spare eastern Berwickshire the evils of over development,will show respect for the Local PLan and does not consist of landowners looking for a quick windfall in building over the countryside then Huttonian is all for it. We could do with a good new councillor from SBC to sit with our community council. So good luck to them.SEVERAL hundred members of the public attended the launch meeting of a new political party, "The Borders Party", in the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels on Monday night.
The Borders Party has been formed to bring a new kind of politics to the Scottish Borders and to Scotland. "It will bring the voice of the people into the council chamber," said Borders Party chairman Nicholas Watson.
This was the first of a series of public meetings to be held across the Borders, following which a full raft of policies, putting the needs of the Borders first, will be drawn up before next May's Council elections.
The new party has grown from a combination of campaign groups, business people, community councillors and many others angered by the Local Plan which proposes, they say, "massive changes to the Borders without meaningful consultation".
Nicholas Watson said: "Not only is the central Tweed valley at risk: Duns and Peebles are seeing upheaval too, while places like Hawick and Jedburgh will suffer from more of their residents going to shop and work in Galashiels and beyond.
"Over-centralisation can be very damaging to a rural region. Development must be related to local needs and local employment."
The environment was a central theme at the party's public launch. "Borderers love their countryside and it attracts tourists and investors too. If we don't respect our environment we lose out all round," said vice-chairman Robin Wild.
"We will also be making the case for biofuels in place of wind farms. It's about finding the facts and seeing what's best for the Borders."
The Borders Party is not affiliated to any national party. "National politics have little place in local government," explained party secretary Jim Smith. "We must engage with local people and listen to what they have to say. It is no good forcing on communities what has already been decided elsewhere."
As an example of a politically-driven project whose real implications have not been thought through or made clear to the public, Mr Watson points to the railway and its potentially crippling cost to the Borders.
"The proposed scheme is not the return of the real Waverley Line, it can only serve a tiny part of the region, and it's not about helping the Borders," he said.
Founding member Violet Baillie is tired of negative comments about an ageing population. She added: "Quite apart from what they offer socially, older people bring with them a breadth of experience and interests, their money and their needs, all of which stimulate local employment.
"We are also blessed with strong, distinct communities in which people know and look out for each other. These are rare strengths and we must resist proposals which threaten them."
Following Monday's meeting in Galashiels further meetings are being planned in Duns, Hawick and Peebles.
The Borders Party will field candidates in all 11 new council wards and the introduction of a new voting system has given them high hopes.
Nicholas Watson led the successful Save Scott's Countryside campaign against a new commuter settlement on Walter Scott's land. "Two years ago while fighting to stop that one development we were surprised to be contacted by people from across the Borders worried about closing schools, bins and even bus services. Looking back it is clear they simply didn't know where to find a voice. Now we hope to be able to give them that voice."
Certainly having a councillor from a main political party (if the Tories can claim that description in Scotland) has not worked for us as well as we had hoped INHO. Not that this is entirely due to the larger political agenda. So time for change. Amen