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Independent councillor explains his switch

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Independent councillor explains his switch

A COUNCILLOR who quit the SNP just three months before the elections has this week revealed he was fed up of “party politics”.

Dougie Campbell announced in March that he was leaving the nationalists and took the risky step of trying to get re-elected to Dumfries and Galloway Council as an independent candidate.

Standing again to represent Dee and Glenkens, his campaigning paid off as he gained 653 votes to earn the third councillor seat in the three member ward.

Dougie said: “There’s no doubt it’s much more difficult to be elected as an independent candidate, without the support of party finances and activists.

“I was apprehensive about whether people would place their trust in me as an individual rather than representing a party.

“However, I learned quickly that there was support for me based on my track record, my promise to focus entirely on the issues affecting them, and not be constrained or directed by party politics.”

Asked why he decided to leave the SNP, Dougie replied: “Over the previous five years I’ve learned that party politics in local government can sometimes do more harm than good. What people want is for their councillors to work together and be champions for the communities they represent.

“Trust in politicians is pretty low at the moment and the last thing people want is their councillors trying to score political points against each other.

“During the last five years I worked well with fellow ward councillors, despite coming from different political starting points.

“My views on the future independence of Scotland haven’t changed. I still believe that Scotland can flourish as an independent nation in the EU, however current local government arrangements need reform with more power and control over decisions returned to local communities.

“First and foremost, my priority will be what’s in the best interests of the people who elected me, however it does appear that an increase in independent councillors will mean we will possibly have more leverage than in the last five years.

“I don’t intend to join any administration, however I want progressive policies which will protect the most vulnerable during the cost of living crisis and will support a green economic recovery.

“This will dictate how I vote on council policies.”

Councillor Campbell added: “Independents appear at this stage to have influence over the balance of power, however we need to use this responsibly over the next few years and take the opportunity to positively influence the direction of the council.”

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