SCOTTISH Borders Council today embarked on a ‘fresh start’ after a new leader and convenor were elected.

All 34 councillors elected at this month’s local elections met via video-link to vote on who should take up the key roles in the new Conservative-independent administration.

After the votes were counted Scottish Conservative Euan Jardine, elected representative for Galashiels & District, was selected as leader with Hawick and Hermitage independent councillor Watson McAteer tasked with the role of convener.

Mr Jardine defeated the other nominated candidate for leader, councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol, Scottish National Party candidate for Selkirkshire, by 19 votes to 11, with three abstentions.

Mr Jardine was nominated by councillor David Parker, of Leaderdale and Melrose, who described him as having “energy and dynamism”, adding: “Having discussed in recent days his plans for leadership he very much sees this as a fresh start for the council and a fresh start for the Scottish Borders and he wants to work across the political spectrum with all colleagues.”

Two candidates were nominated for the role of convenor – Mr McAteer and the Scottish National Party’s Donald Moffat, who represents Mid Berwickshire.

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Mr McAteer attracted 21 votes, Mr Moffat 10, with three abstentions.

Speaking after the vote, Mr McAteer said: “This is a new experience for me, but let me assure you I will do my very best to ensure that everyone who wants to contribute to council debate will have the opportunity to do so.”

Mr McAteer had been nominated by Scottish Conservative Simon Mountford, representative for the Kelso & District ward, and his nomination was seconded by independent Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall.

Mid Berwickshire councillor Donald Moffat was nominated by the SNP’s Elaine Thornton-Nicol, elected representative for Selkirkshire, and seconded by councillor Marshall Douglas, who represents the Tweeddale East ward for the SNP.

A convenor’s role is to act as a link between the members of the council and council officers to ensure that decisions are made to meet the aims and priorities of the council.

Councillor John Greenwell, representative for Mid Berwickshire, was elected unopposed as vice convenor.

At the local elections 14 Scottish Conservative councillors were returned, nine for the SNP, with seven independents, three Liberal Democrats and one representative for the Green Party.

A coalition has been formed between the Scottish Conservatives and three independent councillors – Stuart Marshall, Watson McAteer and Caroline Cochrane, representative for Selkirkshire.

Mr Jardine takes over as leader from councillor Mark Rowley, representative for Mid Berwickshire and Mr McAteer from councillor David Parker.