Council in turmoil a week before elections

NEW councillors will be elected to Scottish Borders Council next week at was is looking increasingly like a turbulent time for the council.

A spokesperson for SBC said this week: “Chief executive of the council, Tracey Logan and director of social work, Andrew Lowe are currently both on sick leave.

“Both Tracey and Andrew are taking steps towards recovery and our corporate management team, consisting of senior officers, is continuing to meet regularly in their absence.

“Glenn Rodger is currently acting chief executive, Yvonne McCracken (head of schools services) is acting director of education and Elaine Torrance (head of social care and health) is acting director of social work.

“With regards to the local council election which takes place on May 3, head of legal and democratic services, Ian Wilkie has been appointed acting returning officer in Tracey Logan’s absence.”

And on top of that SBC’s former well-being officer, Gordon Branston has spoken about “a culture of bullying and intimidation” with 47 per cent of staff absentees believed to be off with work-related stress.

So which of the candidates seeking your vote do you feel will represent you best and be up to the challenges facing the council? And how well do you understand the new voting system that was introduced at the last local council elections?

Scottish Local Government Minister Derek Mackay admitted that recent research has shown that there is still a “continuing issue” that people “did not have sufficient knowledge of the Single Transferable Vote system”.

Since 2007 Berwickshire has been divided into two wards - Mid Berwickshire and East Berwickshire - and you have been represented on SBC by three councillors (in Mid Berwickshire Trevor Jones [Cons], Donald Moffat [SNP] and Frances Renton [Lib Dem]; and in East Berwickshire by Michael Cook [Ind], Jim Fullarton [Cons] and David Raw [Lib Dem]).

This time five candidates are contesting the three Mid Berwickshire seats and seven are standing for the three East Berwickshire seats.

Instead of putting a cross against your preferred candidate you put a number - so your first choice candidate would be number 1, then continue putting a number against as many candidates as you want, in order of preference so your second choice would be number 2, etc.

Returning officer, Ian Wilkie, and his team have printed over 90,000 ballot papers, issued 9,674 postal ballot packs and trained 310 polling station staff for the 89,711 voters in the Scottish Borders to cast their vote.

Mr Wilkie, said: “This year we are voting with numbers instead of using an X. It’s important to take the time to read the ballot paper instructions carefully so you can be sure you have completed your ballot paper properly.”

If you applied for a postal vote, make sure it is returned by 10pm on Thursday May 3. If you have left it too late to post back, drop it off at your polling station or at Scottish Borders Council HQ

Votes will be counted using an electronic counting system on Friday, May 4, starting at 9am.

For all candidates see page 10.