The £10million Heart of Hawick complex looks set to be placed in the hands of a trust.
The unique regeneration project transformed the derelict Tower Mill and surrounding area into a thriving multi-agency arts and heritage initiative, and a huge effort went into securing funding from Europe, the Lottery and Scottish Borders Council, before it was completed in May 2007.
But according to one man who helped bring what he calls the “jewel in Hawick’s crown” to fruition, trust status is a positive move. Retired police inspector, and former councillor Andrew Farquhar, told the Hawick News: “This is a great opportunity to do what was originally intended. The original project board and community council working group planned to form a trust but this did not happen. Scottish Borders Council has a massive financial headache and do not have the cash to spend on this facility.”
However, he is warning that the transition must be smooth and problems experienced by other establishments must be learned from. “This can be a continued success story for the town. However, an example of what needs to be avoided is the Eastgate Centre in Peebles which went down this route, but needed constant financial help from the council,” he stated. “Without doubt Heart of Hawick has made a significant contribution to the town environment by regenerating a number of historic buildings and bringing them back into use.”
A council spokesperson confirmed that as part of Education and Lifelong Learning’s Community Services, the Heart of Hawick is being included in a review for future delivery, “either via a retention and restructure option or via a third sector trust option”.
Councillors will be asked what they consider the best way forward to be on February 27.
Mr Farquhar added: “We need experienced people on board, with business and administration experience, and volunteers. This is an excellent opportunity to secure the future of the Heart of Hawick and I hope it is grabbed with both hands.”