THE Tories will continue to lead Scottish Borders Council after a coalition was formed in the wake of last week’s local elections.

When the votes were counted a week today, Friday, May 6, no political party or grouping was handed an overall mandate to take power unopposed in the council chamber.

The Scottish Tories had the most elected members with 14, followed by the SNP with nine, independents on seven, the LibDems three and the Greens with one, after returning their first-ever councillor in the region.

Over the following days negotiations were held between the different factions in a bid to find common ground and form a workable alliance.

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Now a deal has been struck with the Conservative group, led by Galashiels and District Councillor Euan Jardine, gaining the support of three of the independent councillors – Hawick and Hermitage’s Watson McAteer, Hawick and Denholm’s Stuart Marshall and Selkirkshire elected member Caroline Cochrane.

Councillor Jardine will lead the new administration and Councillor McAteer will serve as the local authority’s new convenor, replacing Councillor David Parker in that role.

McAteer said tackling local issues would be the priority for the new administration.

He said: “I am delighted to take the convener’s role which I hope will be beneficial to both the council and the people I represent.

“We have had very brief discussions at this early stage with our partners and there has been a strong, strong emphasis on re-setting the council agenda to be much more locally-focused and to concentrate on the core services of the council. That’s the language my colleagues Stuart and Caroline wanted to hear.

“We have been campaigning for a long time now to get waste and education and the railway included as key parts of the council’s agenda and we have got that absolute assurance, so that’s really good news. We want to focus in on the things that matter to the people we represent.”

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council on Thursday, May 19, members will be asked to endorse the appointment of both the leader and convener.