SNP group rejects council leader’s plea for consensus

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A call for councillors to “work together” on a major policy document has been rejected by the SNP group on Scottish Borders Council.

The plea for consensus was issued by SBC’s new leader Shona Haslam in an email to all 12 opposition members.

Councillor Haslam heads a coalition of 15 Conservatives and seven Independents and is pulling together a “governing document” outlining her administration’s policies, priorities and targets over the next five years.

“Party politics rarely comes into local government and I am keen to ensure the governing document of this council reflects all the good ideas that were brought forward during the election campaign,” she said.

“Our calls for better schools, better roads and better services were reflected across party lines and I am hopeful that on many of these issues we can move forward with consensus.”

However, Councillor Stuart Bell, leader of the nine-strong SNP opposition bloc at SBC, revealed that his group had declined Mrs Haslam’s invitation.

“This request is hardly surprising given that they went into the May council elections without a meaningful manifesto for local government, proclaiming instead on boards at every polling station that they opposed a second Scottish independence referendum.

“There was certainly little evidence of consensus at the council meeting in May when the SNP was summarily excluded from the new administration’s executive committee. That showed a lack of respect for our views and I have responded to Councillor Haslam on behalf of my group telling her that leadership is more than stating you will do what the public wants you to do.

“Our group does not intend subsuming our clear political views into a compromise shaped by Mrs Haslam.”