Camper vans will be allowed to stay overnight in the Common Haugh, after local councillors gave their unanimous backing to the proposal.
A two-year trial of the idea mooted by Hawick Welcome Initiative – which runs the award-winning hosts scheme during the summer – was given the thumbs up at Tuesday night’s Teviot and Liddesale Area Committee.
And although the decision will need to be ratified at a meeting of the Hawick Common Good Working Party – which comprises the six councillors and owns the car park – a designated area is due to be marked out for use for camper vans from April.
Seeking the committee’s approval, Welcome Initiative chairman Jack Yallop said: “Over the course of last year’s summer season we interviewed more than 80 visitors with camper vans and the response was extremely positive.
“General comments included that the Common Haugh was a great location because it was central and was an ideal place from which to shop, walk, and has a lovely park on the doorstep.”
Mr Yallop also highlighted the potential increase in spending in the town by allowing camper vans to spend the night.
He explained: “An Australian couple asked if they could park overnight and they went out for a meal, did their laundry, shopped and had a few drinks. It would be a huge benefit to local businesses.”
Mr Yallop did express his concern that he attended an area committee meeting more than a year ago with the same request, and although receiving the backing of the councillors, there had been no further action taken.
He continued: “We are in the same position we were in 12 months ago and feel that a year has been missed to attract more visitors”, he stated.
Committee chairman Jock Houston replied: “I think we got bogged down last year looking at water supply and dumping waste, but I think we should do everything we can in supporting this for 2012.”
Councillor Zandra Elliot stated: “I am 100 per cent behind this, and as chairman of the common good fund I am here to support our town.”
Councillor Davie Paterson commented: “Anything that brings people to the town has to be welcomed.”
Councillor Stuart Marshall paid tribute to the success of the hosts, who have been operating in the town for 15 years. And Councillor Ron Smith successfully suggested that the trial should be for two years instead of one.
The initiative’s wishes for painted lines between the disabled car park and school bus area were fully supported, along with camper vans being allowed stay from April to September.
Councillor Houston added: “I recommend we unanimously suppport this, and organise a common good meeting as a matter of urgency.”