Tweeddale East candidates have their say before May 5 election

THIS week we invited the candidates standing in the local council elections for Tweeddale East to share their goals if elected.

Read on to meet your candidates and see what they want to achieve if they get your vote on May 5.

Three will be elected.

  • Please note, Calum MacEwan Watt is also standing for election in the Tweeddale East ward. He will be representing the Vanguard Party. The Border Telegraph asked for a candidate profile, but has not received one.

Robert Bon

Labour

Border Telegraph:

I’m proud to have been selected as your Scottish Labour candidate for Tweeddale East. I moved to Peebles with my family nearly 40 years ago and have lived here ever since. My three sons grew up in the town and attended the local primary and Peebles High School and met their future wives here. I’m involved with NHS Borders and helped establishing a community based palliative care service following my wife’s passing in the Margaret Kerr Unit in 2013.

Labour has national aspirations for Scotland but we know for these to be delivered we have to empower local government rather than cut its funding year on year and pass the blame for bad policy decisions as has been the case at Holyrood for more than a decade.

We are facing a cost of living crisis which will impact on every citizen in this ward – with potentially devastating consequences for some. We need councillors who can quickly grasp this situation and develop imaginative strategies to mitigate these problems as well a willingness to listen to community and voluntary groups who so often are the last line of defence. The council need to embrace the people involved in these groups, listen and learn rather than ‘consult’ then command.

There are a number of urgent local issues which also need addressing. Maintaining a banking presence in Innerleithen is hugely significant and I will campaign to ensure that this key service remain available to all those who depend on it. I will also fight to ensure precious woodlands in Peebles are not sacrificed for the sake of increasing the housing stock during a climate emergency. Especially given the existing pressures placed already placed on public services in Peebles such as GP waiting times and school places.

If elected I will be your councillor, working toward your needs. I will bring an independence of mind to the council and ensure that you not only have a voice, but that it is listened too and acted upon. Vote Scottish Labour on May 5 and help me put your family, friends and community first.


Ellie Clarke

Green

Border Telegraph:

Ellie is a self-employed landscape architect, yoga teacher and artist living in Tweeddale with her husband and three year old son.

Ellie is a member of the Scottish Climate Assembly. Working alongside Scottish Government and a panel of independent experts on climate change has inspired Ellie to become a candidate for the Scottish Greens.

Ellie says: “I look forward to making positive changes at local level. I am dedicated to local community action and will help support the community of Tweeddale East to become resilient and ready for the changes ahead in a fair and effective way

As a designer, Ellie believes that brilliant things can come from adverse situations, and the climate emergency we are facing brings new possibilities that will benefit our health and wellbeing and our natural world.

She believes it is important that we embrace transition as soon as possible. Ellie supports a just food system where local growers and farmers can produce sustainable food. Being a trustee at the Peebles community garden charity ‘Peebles CAN’ has meant she has witnessed first-hand the benefits of learning to grow and harvesting your own food, and she believes everyone who wishes to grow their own should have an opportunity to do so.

Active transport and sustainable travel is an important part of a just transition to meet the challenge of the climate emergency. Ellie believes that Tweeddale is well positioned to build on the existing cycling networks and develop more integrated active travel with cycle rack availability on buses.

Nature connection is important for health and well-being. Ellie supports outdoor learning for children, and forest schools, and believes our local woodlands are valuable community assets which we must protect. Ellie congratulates the community action group ‘Save Kingsmeadows’ on their well-supported continuing campaign to safeguard our local woodland. She would support and encourage further collective action to benefit our community.


Marshall Douglas

SNP

Border Telegraph:

Marshall has lived with his wife Lynda within the ward of Tweeddale East, at their home in Innerleithen for the past forty years. Their son Alasdair and daughter Eilidh both attended the local St Ronan’s Primary and Peebles High Schools before going on to university.

An experienced company director, Marshall holds several Fellowships of professional bodies including the Institute of Directors, Chartered Management Institute, and the International Association of Accountants. Until recently he was employed as finance director for a major food wholesale and distribution company.

He has been a member of Innerleithen Community Council for the past ten years serving as chairman for six, and is committed to working for the community at whatever level he is able. During the period of the pandemic, he was instrumental in helping to establish the Innerleithen Coronavirus Mutual assistance group which worked to help vulnerable members of the community.

Acutely aware that local communities can feel disconnected from the council based in Newtown St Boswells he is keen to promote far greater communication between the council and the public, by holding regular surgeries throughout the ward from Clovenfords to Walkerburn, Innerleithen, Traquair, Cardrona and Peebles as well as attending meetings of the four community councils. It is only by interacting with locals and community groups, that councillors can be expected to understand the needs of their constituents.

A strong long term supporter of the independence cause he is proud to be standing as part of the SNP team in this election. Marshall has been a party member since he was a teenager and has throughout that time held several positions within the party at both local and regional level. He is currently the convener of both Tweeddale branch and the local constituency association.

Although very much involved in party politics he is a firm believer in the politics of consensus and is willing to work with anyone within the council or wider community irrespective of their politics.


Julie Pirone

Conservative

Border Telegraph:

I am delighted to be standing as the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Candidate in Tweeddale East.

I want our communities of Cardrona, Clovenfords, Innerleithen, Peebles, Traquair and Walkerburn to thrive with services to match and to be great places, to live, to work, to go to school or college in, and to visit.

I’ve lived in the Borders all my adult life. I believe rural areas like ours have been forgotten by a Scottish Government bent on independence at all costs when we should be solving a wide range of issues to make your life and that of your family’s better.

I am honoured to be standing in Shona Haslam’s ward, and like her, will stand up for your views and be a tireless champion of Tweeddale East at the council and wider afield.

I have 25 years of business experience and spent seven years running an independent and essential afterschool facility. I know how it feels to run a small rural enterprise.

I’m here to help people when they are in need and to resolve local issues together. I’ll be standing side by side with local businesses to make sure they are supported through their challenges ahead so Tweeddale East can grow and prosper.

As Scottish Conservatives & Unionists, we have achieved a lot, launching iPads for school pupils, bringing in new state of the art schools, delivering destination play parks and the Borders growth deal. But we still have a lot of work to do.

I bring a fresh face with fresh ideas, where I will challenge the norm, while standing up for our local area and your rights to excellent services. I will also be standing up for the rights of women and girls.

I want to see better road maintenance. I am passionate about protecting our green spaces, improving housing, health and social services, and transport services which really connect all our communities and to places of work.

On May 5, I’m asking local people to put their trust in me to be their local councillor. I’ll be working every day for you and Tweeddale East.


David Pye

Liberal Democrat

Border Telegraph:

As the prospective Liberal Democrat candidate for East Tweeddale, David is keen to ensure that local issues are given a real voice at this level of government.

To those that do not know him, David is married to Gill and their two children attended the local primary and Peebles High School. Living in Peeblesshire for the past 30 years, David first became a community councillor in 1993 whilst living in Eddleston. He chaired this community council from 1997 to 2005 and also represented the landward community councils on the Area Committee for three years. Following a move into Peebles, he became secretary then chair of Peebles Community Council from 2008 to 2011.

With many other community interests, David has previously been involved with the Citizens Advice Bureau, Peebles Christmas Lights Association, Peebles Rugby Club and Peebles Community Trust. As a past board member of Scottish Borders Housing Association and a current board member of Live Borders he is fully committed in working to improve the communities we live in.

Originally from an agricultural background, David has now worked in the financial services sector for 32 years, basing his business in Peebles in 2003. Now working as a mortgage broker David is acutely aware of the difficulties that many people currently face in terms of their finances and finding an affordable home providing good quality housing. David is keen to utilise the experiences gained from working in these sectors to improve the community in any way possible.

David strongly believes in localised decision making and tailoring local services to local needs. Sustainable development is critical for every community, whether it be a town, a village or in the countryside. The relationship of new development to local needs and local employment is essential. Local communities should have a much greater say in what is appropriate for their specific locality. Only by working closely with the individual communities is it possible to deliver the most appropriate plans and services.

David is looking forward to having a chance of representing this community as a Scottish Borders councillor, should he be elected on May 5.


Robin Tatler

Independent

Border Telegraph:

It has been an honour to serve as one of your councillors over the past five years and it would be a privilege to continue to represent you on Scottish Borders Council. My family and I have lived in Tweeddale for more than 20 years and I continue to be active in many local organisations including the Food Foundation and Innerleithen Rotary Club.

I am a former chair of Peebles Community Council and was an active member of Peebles Community Trust. With my family I have run a festival and outdoor catering company based in Walkerburn for the past 15 years. When relaxing am a keen cyclist, dog-walker and golfer.

As we all try to cope with the worst cost of living crisis for decades I have campaigned for a Living Wage for all workers in the Scottish Borders and have led the work at Scottish Borders Council to put in place an Anti-poverty Strategy and Action Plan.

If re-elected, I will continue to work with every group and individual who shares my determination to secure the best public services for the people of Tweeddale and the Scottish Borders. As an Independent I will always put the needs of local people ahead of party politics.

The priorities I will put first if re-elected on May 5 are listed below. Based on work already under way and what you have recently told me matter most to you in Tweeddale East and in Scottish Borders these are:

  • Sustainable services – based on your views of local needs
  • Better parking and visitor facilities for Innerleithen and Walkerburn
  • Improvements to grassroots sports facilities across the Borders
  • Fully accessible paths and well-maintained pavements
  • Community Wardens to tackle parking, litter and anti-social behaviour
  • Fighting low pay and poverty

This is not a national election or a referendum. In this election you can vote for more than one candidate – so I am asking you to vote for a person first and a political party (if you wish) second. Above all else it is really important to make sure that you vote.

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