First steps to High Street revival

Andrew Farquhar

Andrew Farquhar

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The man behind the regeneration of the High Street is calling Tuesday’s town hall meeting the start of a “new beginning”.

And the £30,000 pledged by Scottish Borders Council was given a £10,000 boost from both Hawick council wards’ Quality of Life funds, with further good news from local property developer Gavin Stevenson who had pledged a cherry picker which will be used to deal with unsightly vegetation on High Street buildings.

More than 70 people turned out and several SBC council officials, including rates assessor Mark Dickson and neighbourhood services boss Jenni Craig, who gave a presentation on rates calculations.

Also in attendance were retail guru John Cowan; former council planning boss, Ian Lindley, who has worked closely with High Street regeneration group chairman Andrew Farquhar; and Mike Gray and Helen Calder, who are behind the Energise Galashiels, a group set up last year aimed at the regeneration of their town’s High Street. The Galashiels group have expressed an interest in working with their Hawick counterparts and have shared ideas and strategies with Mr Farquhar and his committee.

Following the rates presentation and Mr Cowan’s introduction, those present joined three sub-groups of their choice for further discussion and these comprised: ‘How does our town look?, chaired by estate agent Jim Hay; ‘Promoting Hawick’, in the hands of businesswoman Marion Chrystie; and ‘Bringing people in’, with former High Street trader Alistair MacKay in charge.

During these discussions, Mr Farquhar told the Hawick News: “This is excellent. There are a lot of good suggestions so far and this is what it’s about, people getting together to work together for the future.”

Mr Hay added: “I thought the meeting was very encouraging. There was a lot of positive feedback and views and there was a lot of passion from shopkeepers and interested parties.”

One of the High Street’s longest serving traders says he’s full of hope for the future of the town centre.

Speaking to the Hawick News on Wednesday, jeweller Hamish Smith said the meeting is an ideal starting point for bigger and better things: “It was very positive. Andrew Farquhar and the Future Hawick team have done an amazing job and the turnout was better than anyone anticipated. There was a fantastic array of people there who had some excellent ideas. I really am hopeful of good things.”

And summing the meeting up, Mr Farquhar said: “This is a start and a very positive one. I’m enthused about this.”