THIS week we invited the candidates standing in the local council elections for Tweeddale West 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, Julia Reid, who is representing the Labour Party in the Tweeddale West ward, did not provide a candidate photo.

Dominic Ashmole


Peeblesshire News:

Dominic Ashmole grew up in Peebles and now lives near Stobo. He recently concluded a 23-year career in the healthcare technology sector. This included managing medical software development projects, and leading successful multi-million pound research funding applications in partnership with NHS and university colleagues. Previously, he worked for local care organisations supporting adults with learning disabilities.

Dominic has family living in the area, and his children attended the local schools, so he has direct experience of the challenges facing council-run services. He has also had doorstep conversations with many locals, and will push the council to take action on the concerns that residents have raised. These include problems with the proposed High School design, and a skills shortage delaying essential energy-efficiency improvements to our homes.

In a rural area like ours, being able to get around safely, cheaply, and easily is all-important. Dominic is delighted that the Greens have won free bus travel for the under-22s, which will save many people hundreds of pounds. Improved public transport is essential in the fight against climate breakdown, and the council must play its part. We must find ways to solve the shortage of drivers and get timetables at least back to pre-pandemic levels. We should also make simple improvements such as more shelters at rural bus stops.

Dominic has been contacted by disabled and elderly residents who feel almost housebound as a result of inadequately maintained pavements, with leaf clearance and gritting neglected. Wheelchair and mobility scooter users find that drop kerbs are missing or blocked by cars, and cannot reach the town centre from their homes. This disregard for the needs of our vulnerable neighbours must stop.

The Scottish Government and the council are both legally obliged to meet net zero targets. Dominic is massively concerned by the repeated failure to meet the national targets, and by the council’s much-delayed “climate emergency” declaration, which has generated no visible emergency action. The pandemic and the war are horrific and absolutely deserve our attention. However, no responsible politician should neglect the actions required to prevent the potential breakdown of nature and civilisation.

Drummond Begg

Liberal Democrat

Peeblesshire News:

I am writing to ask for your support in the council elections on May 5.

Christina and I have lived in Tweeddale with our family for nearly 25 years. It is where we call home.

I work as a GP in Penicuik and have also had various roles regionally and nationally. I am passionate about having good public services and I will fight for a properly resourced and locally managed health and social care system.

We need to get on and build Peebles High School after the fire and we need to ensure that current pupils aren’t affected by the build. We should give our teachers and young people the facilities they need to thrive.

We need to support the fantastic, vibrant local community groups that exist across Tweeddale, and we should aim for local action to reverse the trend towards centralization.

Sustainability should be at the heart of what we do, from insulating our homes to ceasing our dependence on fossil fuels. Liberal Democrats want to enhance recycling and reuse and believe that community recycling centres should be developed to do more, from garden waste to household chemicals. Figures from surveys vary but an estimated 40 per cent of what goes into our grey bins could go in our blue bins, we want an information campaign to improve this. Doing nothing is not an option. We need to accelerate change to tackle the climate emergency.

If elected, I want to be part of a strong, well-run council with a ‘can do, will do attitude’. This means giving our local communities more say and challenging the current Scottish Government’s policy to further centralize services such as social care. Liberal Democrats will work with COSLA to develop a new vision for local councils with a suite of new powers covering transport to funding affordable housing.

After all that we have been through we need new hope.

I hope that you will trust me with your vote and that I can be a positive and honest voice working on your behalf in Tweeddale.

Eric Small


Peeblesshire News:

The Scottish Conservatives' candidate in Tweeddale West, Eric Small, is passionate about his home area and has served the public in different ways throughout his working life.

The West Linton native was a member of the local community council for 25 years, latterly as chairman, standing down when first elected to Scottish Borders Council in 2017.

Widower Eric, a proud father and grandfather, is involved in many local organisations and is a former Whipman at the village’s annual summer festival.

After school, he became a time-served slater and plasterer in the construction industry, before joining Royal Mail and embarking on a 27-year career as a postman.

Much of that time he was in charge of a post bus, sometimes dropping off prescription medication and groceries to housebound and other vulnerable residents on his large rural round.

Eric is perhaps best known across the Scottish Borders and Lothian for his 44 years as a part-time retained firefighter.

Joining, aged 18, he attended incidents, large and small, across the region working his way through the ranks to watch manager at West Linton.

He has transferred that public service ethos into his local government work and regularly has an annual 100 per cent attendance record for council and committee meetings, which include the Police, Fire and Rescue and Safer Communities Board.

Eric ranks providing a strong voice for the people of Tweeddale West as his top responsibility if returned as councillor. He makes a point of seeking grassroots feedback by attending all nine community councils across the ward, some at fairly remote locations.

He said: “I firmly believe that the small issues are as important as the larger ones in local government. I’m always ready to raise local community concerns.

“I’m proud of the Conservative-led council’s record with the support of some excellent officials and staff. What was achieved after the fire at Peebles High School, for example, was remarkable.

“If re-elected, I would strive for better roads — particularly pothole repairs — improving education further, ensuring our area receives a fair share of policing and fire service resources, maintaining parks and cemeteries and providing all the services the public need."

Julia Reid


This is an election to pick our local councillors, not to decide for or against another referendum on independence. Councils make important decisions about what happens in our area and what services we have. Remember you can list all the candidates in order of preference, so if your first choice doesn’t get enough support or has already been elected, your vote can be passed on to your next choice.

There are many serious issues facing us globally and locally. We all need to do what we can to help tackle these. We need a council (and different government) that will make it easier for us to make the right choices. The climate emergency needs urgent action to stop carbon emissions, and we are having huge increases in our fuel bills. Labour wants better insulation for houses so we can use less fossil fuel and cut our heating bills. We can’t afford to go on polluting our planet and wasting energy causing global warming.

The cost of living crisis affects the poorest most. Much of the action needed to help depends on the Scottish and UK Government taking action, for example with windfall taxes on the excessive profits of oil and gas companies.

Our council needs to press the government for more support for those badly affected. We need more funding for council services to help people who face being forced to choose between heating and eating.

After years of neglect and underfunding our health and social care services needed improving even before the COVID pandemic, so the need for action is even more important now. Transport too needs action, to ensure services are available when needed, especially for those who don’t drive.

Voting for me won’t solve all these problems but will help show that more and more people care and want to do something to make things better.

John Smith


Peeblesshire News:

Having worked as an engineer in the printed circuit industry for a number of years, I moved to Peebles with my young family in 1986 to join one of the companies in the Scottish Borders’ successful electronics sector.

Brought up by my mother and elder sister, I learnt the value of thrift, hard work and determination. I was encouraged to embrace the aspirational values of the Conservative Party which have served me well throughout my life. I can, therefore, empathise with people struggling to raise a family at a time of soaring utility bills, rising council tax and a higher level of personal taxation than the rest of the UK.

In my early years in Peebles, I was fortunate to be involved with many local organisations such as Priorsford PTA, Selkirk and Peebles Rotary Clubs, St Peter’s Church Vestry, Tweed Theatre and as a volunteer driver for WRVS.

As my career developed, I travelled extensively, leaving less time to be involved locally, but I am now in a position where I can really put something back into the communities of Tweeddale West and the wider Borders region.

I’m passionate about safeguarding the natural beauty of our region, eradicating the blight of fly tipping, improving public transport links and infrastructure, and enhancing job and leisure opportunities. These are a great incentive for me to work hard for the benefit of all residents in the ward.

My two children benefited from an excellent education at Priorsford Primary and Peebles High School before qualifying as a chartered civil engineer and a GP. I am therefore determined that future generations should have the same opportunities which is why I’m supporting training, mentoring, up-skilling, and business start up assistance for young people and apprenticeship schemes in rural communities.

I love meeting people and hearing their stories and would, within the remit of a local councillor, be using my problem solving, communication and organisational skills to, if elected, support the improvement of the lives of people within our community.

Viv Thomson


Peeblesshire News:

Viv has lived in the Borders for over 20 years and during that time she has been involved in range of community groups. She was a member of Lamancha, Newlands and Kirkurd Community Council for several years, where she was chair and secretary. She also stepped into the role of Federation Secretary for the Peeblesshire SWI when it was threatened with folding, to allow time for someone to be found to take the role on permanently.

Viv worked in the NHS for nearly 30 years, holding a variety of roles such as business manager for a small research team, to project communications manager and equality and diversity operational lead. During that time she was also active within the trade union movement holding a range of positions at a local, regional and national level – being particularly active in disability and women’s rights. She has experience in developing and implementing guidance and policy, as well as developing and delivering tailored training in a variety of settings. She currently works with Citizens Advice so understands the issues families are having making ends meet now, and the concerns for the impact of rising costs of living on our more vulnerable families.

Viv has a BSc (Hons) in social sciences and an MSc in development management gained through the Open University whilst working full-time. She is an advocate of personal and professional development, and gets a huge amount of joy watching others flourish.

Viv joined the SNP following the referendum, and has been active in the branch, and is currently their women’s officer. Viv said: "I have toyed with the idea of standing in council elections before but the timing was never quite right. This time round everything fits and, should I be elected, I will have the capacity to represent all Tweeddale West to the level they deserve."

Living in a small village, she understands the feeling of being overlooked and not listened to. If elected she will hold surgeries to make it easier for people to get support through what will be difficult times for us all.