Coalition talks set to continue in Borders

David Parker - still a firm favourite to lead a rainbow coalition on Scottish Borders Council.
David Parker - still a firm favourite to lead a rainbow coalition on Scottish Borders Council.

The future administration of Scottish Borders Council is still to be decided after a predictably inconclusive election result.

The Conservatives took most seats after the region went to the polls last week, but there was increased support for the SNP and Independents.

All groups have now met, but an agreement between the parties has yet to be reached.

At the time of going to press, we believe two administrative scenarios have emerged. The first - the front runner according to a source close to the council - would see Scottish Borders Council reform the same ruling group of Conservatives, Lib Dems and independents as formed the previous administration.

However, other potential combinations remain viable, and an SNP, Lib Dem and Independent coalition, with or without the Borders Party, has also been mooted.

A third possibility is that the SNP and Tories combine, however, we believe this outcome is highly unlikely.

Returning East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton is leading negotiations for the Tories, while returning Mid Berwickshire councillor Donald Moffat is part of the team that is doing the same for the SNP.

Representing the Independents, councillor Michael Cook, East Berwickshire, is also involved in the negotiations.

Meetings are expected to continue today (Thursday) and tomorrow, with a possible announcement on Saturday.

It is understood that under either option, David Parker - an Independent - will continue to be leader of the council, regardless of what alliance ultimately prevails.

Mr Parker was given an overwhelming vote of confidence from the people of Leaderdale and Melrose last week, collecting over 1,300 first choice votes to cruise past the winning post.

Following the results of last week’s election, the Tories remain the single largest party in the council, although its representation has been cut from 12 to 10, with increased support for the SNP and independents.

The SNP now has nine councillors, up from six, while the Lib Dems saw their allocation cut from 10 councillors to six.

Mid Berwickshire councillors Donald Moffat (SNP) and Frances Renton (Lib Dem) were both re-elected, and will continue to represent the ward along with new boy, Conservative John Greenwell.

Speaking after the Mid Berwickshire result was announced, Mr Moffat said he was delighted to be re-elected.

He added: “Rumours of my demise have obviously been greatly exaggerated and it is a great privilege to again represent the ward in which I was born.”

Michael Cook (Independent) and Jim Fullerton (Scottish Conservatives) were re-elected in East Berwickshire, and they have been joined by the SNP’s Joan Campbell - another reverse for the Lib Dems with Ken Webb failing to follow in the footsteps of outgoing party incumbent David Raw.

Following the result, Mr Cook said the election and the anonymous and esoteric nature of the voting system had been an “awful experience” for him.

Mr Fullarton, too, admitted to feeling “some nerves” ahead of the result.

The surprise package was Mrs Campbell who told her cheering supporters: “Everyone in the SNP, from First Minister Alex Salmond down to every newly elected councillors is committed to working and caring for the Scottish people. I will do that in East Berwickshire.”

See page 13 for a full list of all 34 elected members of Scottish Borders Council.