Youngest Scottish Borders councillor facing an age-old dilemma in a vital new role

Scottish Borders Council's youngest elected representative has been tasked with the age-old challenge of finding ways to bolster the region's economic regeneration.

By Paul Kelly
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 2:41 pm
Scott Hamilton.
Scott Hamilton.

Conservative Scott Hamilton was this week appointed the local authority's new executive member for economic regeneration and finance, taking over that responsibility from council leader Mark Rowley.

At the age of 25, Mr Hamilton, who has represented the Jedburgh and district ward since 2017, is the youngest of the council's 34 elected members.

But despite his relative youth he has a wealth of political experience, having previously held the council's transformation and service improvement brief.

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He's also chair of the Cheviot Area Partnership and the council's Champion for Children and Young People.

In his role as a ward councillor Mr Hamilton has also been central in bids to regenerate Jedburgh town centre, particularly over the successful drive to ensure the compulsory purchase of an eyesore building at the corner of High Street and Market Place.

As part of his new role Mr Hamilton has also been appointed to represent Scottish Borders Council on the Regional Economic Partnership.

However, tenure in his new portfolio is somewhat uncertain with Local Elections looming, the results of which will determine the make-up of the new council administration.

He said: "My new role is going to mean a lot more work. My appointment comes late in the cycle but the department itself worked extremely hard over the Covid period to support local industries, so in that respect where I see my role now is to carry on the momentum that the department set.

"I have got huge boots to fill with the leader having previously occupied the role. We have got the Borderlands, South of Scotland Enterprise and what is important to me is that the Borders has a strong voice at the table when it comes to funding packages.

"I didn't expect the role but we've had a few changes since councillor Haslam stepped down as leader and I was just quite delighted to be asked. I did talk at length with the leader over what it was all going to entail and there was confidence in me which I was very pleased about, but now the hard part starts.

"It's about regeneration and 'building back better'. I know it's a phrase that is bandied about but it is vitally true for our local economy. The economy is at the heart of the Borders and if that suffers it has an impact on every other aspect of the Borders."

Mr Hamilton first became interested in politics just before the 2010 General Election, when he was 13, and he received particular guidance at the time from mid-Berwickshire Conservative councillor John Greenwell.

He added: "I haven't lost the bug since then. So I have involved in politics for quite some time. I often joke that I have a longer party membership than some of my much older colleagues.

"Everybody that is interested in politics has a degree of ambition but at the end of the day you do it for your constituents. Back in 2017 I was a fresh face and full of ideas and since then I've developed a greater understanding of the role."

Mr Hamilton, whose involvement with his family's farm takes up a portion of his time, married Camilla, an occupational health nurse at NHS Borders, in September last year.