POLITICIANS from across the region should come together formally in a ‘Border Forum’ to agree united positions on policy that affects the Borders and neighbouring areas, according to the Borders Party.
Nicholas Watson, the Borders Party leader, said that better co-operation was needed to represent the area’s interests on issues such as tourism, regional development, transport and renewable energy.
The party’s proposal is for regular formal meetings that bring together councillors and parliamentarians, with the forum not requiring any kind of costly new institutions or bureaucracy.
“Recent constitutional change such as devolution and proportional representation has fragmented the political scene”, Mr Watson said.
“We now have four tiers of government represented in the Borders – the local council, Holyrood, Westminster and Europe – and coalition at all levels is now the norm. There are literally dozens of politicians from different parties representing the area. This may reflect the wishes of the people more accurately, but it does call for more co-ordination.”
“Take the issue of windfarms. Policy on renewable energy is set partly at Westminster, partly at Holyrood and partly locally. All the main national parties have had a hand in developing policy that has a huge impact on our region. Yet only now are their local representatives scrambling to react, often blaming each other, now that the implications are becoming apparent.
“We should have got together far earlier, with people from all parties, and also from Northumberland, East Lothian and elsewhere, to try to influence policy at Westminster and Holyrood as it was being formulated.”
Mr Watson pointed to the South of Scotland Alliance as an example of how better co-operation is beneficial.