The title of Local Politician of the Year was confirmed at the annual Scottish Politician of the Year Awards, in Edinburgh last Thursday.
The event is widely recognised as Scotland’s top political awards, with a judging panel made up of press and broadcast journalists, business leaders and academics.
Scottish Borders Council Leader Mr Parker was one of three nominations for the award, chosen from over 1,200 councillors in Scotland, and scooped the prestigious title in front of the leaders of Edinburgh and Renfrewshire councils.
As well as his 20 years of service to local government, and nearly 13 years as SBC Leader, the judges were impressedby Mr Parker’s involvement in the Borders Railway project over the last 17 years.
Mr Parker said he was thrilled to have received the award. “Throughout my political life, I have enjoyed tremendous support from the hardworking team of staff at SBC and my councillor colleagues, and this award is really recognition for all of their hard work on behalf of the Scottish Borders,” he said this week.
“In what has been the busiest year of my working life, it is fantastic to receive recognition for the work on the Borders Railway, but I was only one of many who played a role in delivering this fantastic project.”
SBC Convener Councillor Graham Garvie paid tribute to Mr Parker: “It testament to his hard work in the Borders over the last 20 years, and I know many people both within the Borders and outside will be pleased his long standing work on the Borders Railway has been recognised nationally.”
“National awards of this nature to local politicians are rare and are also a singular recognition of the Scottish Borders and the Council staff who work so hard on all of our behalf.”
First elected to the council when he was just 21 and in the final year of his degree studies, Mr Parker was first appointed council leader in 2003 at the tender age of just 29 and has since been unanimously re-elected on two further occaisons.
During his time as leader the Borders has seen significant capital investment, including three new high schools; four new primary schools and a significant school refurbishment programme, as well as new sports pitches and the major inner relief road works in Galashiels.
On becoming leader in 2003, he took special responsibility for the railway delivery and from 2006-2008, led the process politically to transfer the project to the Scottish Government so it would carry all the risks.
From 2008 – 2012, he worked with the Scottish Government to ensure the project was delivered, and in 2014, negotiated directly with the then First Minister, Alex Salmond, to secure the Borders Railway Blueprint and the £10M package of investment.