South Scotland

Clash over Scottish Borders Council opposition role

Scottish Borders Council Image copyright Google

A move by Scottish Borders Council's new administration not to include opposition members on its executive has come in for criticism.

SNP group leader Stuart Bell claimed the Conservative and independent coalition had "gagged" other parties.

The previous council administration did allow opposition groups to occupy some of its most senior posts.

Conservative group leader Michelle Ballantyne said she felt that actually made their role less effective.

"For the last five years we have had opposition positions on the executive," said Mr Bell.

"For two years they were taken up and I think we had better decisions taken in those two years."

However, he said the Conservative opposition at the time had subsequently decided to withdraw from the executive.

'Stronger opposition'

"I do not think it is justified to remove the positions simply because the last opposition was ineffective," he said.

"I think opposition will be gagged."

Ms Ballantyne said she did not believe that would be the case.

"We felt that it compromises the position of the opposition - far from giving them a voice, it actually neuters their voice," she said.

"I think the opposition will find that they have a stronger opposition voice when they are not sitting on the executive.

"They will have their own opinion on it. We are giving them, we think, a better position to work from - they obviously don't agree with us but time will tell."

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