Neither of the Councillors who represent the Scottish Borders attended yesterday’s City Region meeting, (the Joint Committee of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland Strategic Development Plan Authority). No apologies were given and no substitutes sent.
Scottish Borders Councillor Nicholas Watson, who attended as an observer, believes an important opportunity was missed. “The possibility of a Regional Assembly was discussed and this would have been the perfect opportunity to shoot it down before it got any further. I know Councillor Riddell-Carre is opposed to a Regional Assembly and judging by the reaction from other Councillors after the meeting she would have received support. But it’s now been continued to another meeting.”
A Regional Assembly was recently proposed, to the surprise of many delegates, at the Capital City Region Conference on 5th November, by Dave Anderson, the City of Edinburgh Council’s Director of City Development.
Councillor Watson, who leads The Borders Party, says “Perfectly good mechanisms already exist for working together at a regional level. There is no justification for yet another costly and unaccountable layer of government.”
Watson has also written to Tom Aitchison, Edinburgh’s Chief Executive, to ask if moves towards a Regional Assembly have been through the political process of the City of Edinburgh Council. “If they haven’t then I want to know what a council officer is doing proposing a major step of huge political significance,” he said today.
The Borders Party opposed the inclusion of the Scottish Borders in the City Region, claiming that Scottish Borders Council should not cede the role of strategic planning in the Borders to a body over which it will have little control. “But the constant plea of the administration at Scottish Borders Council was that “we must be at the table”; why on earth, then, were they not at the table on Monday? People I have told are furious. Borders councillors seem blissfully unaware of the sort of moves being made by City Region thinkers; they’d better wake up before it’s too late.”
Watson has asked SBC Leader David Parker to explain why Councillors Riddell-Carre and Davidson did not attend.