SNP coup at Scottish Borders Council ends years of Tory dominance over the Borders. MAJOR CHALLENGES lie ahead for the new administration of Scottish Borders Council, announced today with the surprise twist of the Scottish National Party (SNP) finally ousting the majority group of Conservative Councillors who have run Scottish Borders Council for almost an eternity along with the Liberal Democrats & independents.
While many of the portfolios will change to reflect the incoming SNP Councillors, David Parker, who has led the Council for the past nine years will remain as its leader. Mr Parker, currently an ‘independent’ councillor was once part of the SNP group before jumping ship in 2003 to grab control of the independent/Libdem/Tory run Council as it’s leader, replacing LibDem John Scott who replaced the ousted Drew Tulley.
Parker was once reported to have been considering stepping down from local politics in a BBC report dated 2006 Leader considers leaving his post in which he was quoted as saying : "Being leader of this council is a terrific job and one I love dearly. But sometimes, as those who want nothing to change in the Borders must realise, you are not always master of your own destiny."
Mr Parker gave up the SNP whip to become an Independent when he was appointed deputy leader of SBC in 2002 in a coalition with the Lib Dems (and you can imagine the kind of criticism that came from the SNP’s local msp, Christine Grahame when he did that ! – Ed).
Since 2002, a multitude of scandals have hit Scottish Borders Council, from poor financial management to massive multi million pound losses in bankrupt Icelandic Banks, allegations of bullying, massive debts reported to be in the hundreds of millions of pounds, individuals councillors charged with criminal offences while other councillors pursued personal vendettas against members of the public, and more recently, scandals involving the sacking of it’s very own Chief Executive, David Hume, all of which can be found HERE
Scottish Borders Council hit the headlines with revelations of huge salaries, expenses & more, here : Reasons your Scottish Borders Council tax is so high : 15 Councillors soak up £1/2 million, Officials & Chief Exec on £100K plus & golden pensions & MONEY TO BURN : Millions lost in Icelandic banks yet 34 Scottish Borders Councillors soak up another million in salaries & expenses claims
More on the Icelandic Bank-SBC scandal can be read here : “Akin to Money Laundering” : Tory-LibDem Scottish Borders Council ‘played Russian Roulette’ with taxpayers £172 million in bankrupt Icelandic Banks
Scottish Law Reporter also reported on the calls for a full investigation of Scottish Borders Council during November 2010 where it was revealed by the former Scotsman journalist Mr Chisholm who carried out his own investigation of SBC’s Icelandic finance deals, that Audit Scotland had been asked to investigate claims Scottish Borders Council acted negligently & recklessly in investing a staggering £10 million pounds of taxpayers money in the now collapsed Icelandic banks. The Council, which is now cutting posts & public services across the Borders is expected to lose more than £3 million pounds on its investment and that the final payment (if indeed any payments are made) of its expected return is not due until October, 2018.
Scottish Borders Council issued the following Press Release :
Scottish Borders Council will be run by an Independent, Scottish National Party (SNP) and Liberal Democrat Administration following the recent election.
Councillor David Parker, Independent, who has led the council for the past nine years, will be the choice of the new Administration for Council Leader and Councillor Graham Garvie, Liberal Democrat, will be the Council's new Convener.
Councillor John Mitchell of the SNP group will be Deputy Council Leader with responsibility for Finance.
The announcement of the new Administration was confirmed today and the Administration will publish a programme of government for the Scottish Borders next week.
Speaking on behalf of the Independent members, Michael Cook said: "We are pleased once again to be part of the Administration of Scottish Borders Council and it is a mark of our success that David Parker is to lead the Council for an historic third term. I am also pleased that Nicholas Watson and Sandy Aitchison have agreed to become Independents and that nine Independents will now contribute to the work of the new Administration."
Speaking on behalf of the Scottish National Party Group, Group Leader John Mitchell said: "We are pleased to be part of the new Administration that will run Scottish Borders Council for the next five years. The SNP Group is committed to working hard with our Administration partners for the good of the Scottish Borders. We look forward to the implementation of SNP policies including widening the democratic accountability of Scottish Borders Council."
Speaking for the Liberal Democrats, Deputy Group Leader Catriona Bhatia said: "Liberal Democrats made a significant contribution to the last council and will do so again as part of the new Administration. What is important to us is ensuring that our policy programme is at the heart of the new Administration's thinking."
Councillor Sandy Aitchison, speaking about the Borders Railway said: "Nicholas and I remain sceptical about the railway but recognise that the project is being delivered by the Scottish Government and is beyond the influence of the council. We want to play an important part in the governance of the Scottish Borders over the next five years and will be pleased to work as part of the Independent group within the new Administration. Indeed, we are delighted that the Administration has agreed a review of the Borders involvement in the city region."
The new Council Administration will take office on Thursday 17 May with the appointment of the Convener, Vice Convener, Leader and Deputy Leader. Further appointments will be made at a Council meeting on Thursday 24 May.