The Conservative mid-Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley has taken up a post as strategic manager for tourism with South of Scotland Enterprise.
He has been tasked with the brief of ensuring that the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway are together a “dynamic tourism destination”.
But some councillors have raised the issue of a perceived ‘conflict of interest’ in Mr Rowley taking on the post whilst also remaining as leader of the local authority.
Yesterday, a motion calling for his resignation was put before Scottish Borders Council by Hawick councillor Davie Paterson. It was defeated by 16 votes to 15.
In raising the motion, independent Councillor Paterson said some of his constituents had been referring to the leader as “Two-jobs Rowley”, adding: “One constituent accused councillors of feathering their own nests.”
Independent councillor Gordon Edgar, seconding the motion, suggested Mr Rowley would not be able to give 100 per cent to both roles. He added: “Councillor Rowley is a very capable person, but no matter how capable he is, he has got himself into an untenable situation with the conflict in the responsibilities of the two positions he has accepted.”
Opposing the motion, Conservative councillor Simon Mountford said: “I deplore this motion. To me it reeks of petty politics and sanctimony. Are we really saying that councillors should not have second jobs or are we saying they shouldn’t have well-paid jobs?
“I have been assured by Councillor Rowley that any potential conflicts of interests are all manageable.”
Councillor Stuart Bell, the leader of the SNP on the council, disagreed, saying: “I think it is unsustainable for councillor Rowley to simultaneously hold the positions of leader of the council and South of Scotland tourism strategy manager. There will inevitably be a two-way conflict of interests.”
Speaking in his own defence, Councillor Rowley said: “I spent quite some time going through the interview process for this new job and I have to confess that I had completely satisfied myself that whilst there would be potential conflicts I was going to be able to manage them and I remain of that view.”