Call for shop cash to come to Hawick

Scottish Borders Council headquarters.
Scottish Borders Council headquarters.

Council plans to introduce grants of £3,000 to enhance Galashiels town centre have been slammed by those seeking to regenerate Hawick’s struggling High Street.

A press release issued by Scottish Borders Council last Friday gave details of the funding scheme aimed at enhancing the town centre, restoring historic features, removing blights on the town centre, increasing footfall and reducing the number of empty shops.

The latest good news for Gala comes just months after it was announced that the town is to benefit from a co-ordinator.

But this week, Andrew Farquhar, who chairs the Future Hawick High Street regeneration group, is demanding equal treatment for the town before council cash runs out.

Mr Farquhar told the Hawick News: “I was amazed at last Friday’s announcement that the council is funding a grant scheme of up to £3,000 per business to go towards upgrading frontages of premises in Galashiels town centre.

Mr Farquhar called for equality, before adding: “Never a day passes without us being reminded of the financial woes of this council, so the funding for such schemes in future is by no means a certainty.

“The problems in Hawick town centre are well documented . We need a clear undertaking from the council confirming that this funding will be made available to Hawick businesses.

“This would be seen as an encouraging sign and may even persuade some businesses to put on hold any plans they may have to cease trading.”

Councillor Stuart Bell, executive member for economic development, said: “Galashiels has to put its best foot forward ahead of the arrival of the railway in September. Presenting an attractive town centre with appealing streets is important.”

And Mr Bell, member for Tweeddale East, added:“This will help to attract customers to the town centre and also business tenants to set up shop in vacant properties.”

Also unhappy with the latest snub is Hawick and Burnfoot councillor Watson McAteer, who said: “I met with the officer responsible for economic development and expressed my disappointment that Hawick is not receiving the same level of support.

“It is important that council services are delivered equitably and I have formally requested that officers extend the same level of support to Hawick. Through the work of Future Hawick and the High Street project being lead by Andrew Farquhar we are well placed to facilitate the secondment of a council funded coordinator now, and that should be the least we are prepared to accept.”