Review of 2015: November and December

The Glebe Mill Street area is among the worst affected by the severe floods.
The Glebe Mill Street area is among the worst affected by the severe floods.

November

The bid to bring an Aldi supermarket to Commercial Road receives a setback when the Scottish Government refuses to support a request to have the site’s status changed to allow further retail development. But developer Gavin Stevenson is hopeful common sense will prevail and he reveals that the former Wilton Mills building and clock tower could be demolished within a week.

Hawick Common-Riding Committee finances are in rude health with almost £210,000 in the bank. This is up almost £13,000 on 2014, and despite atrocious weather at this year’s Saturday Moor, committee chairman Ian Scott says it all bodes well for the future.

Hawick regeneration chief Derick Tait calls on Scottish Borders Council to “put its money where its mouth is” by using new powers to cut business rates. The call comes a week after the Hawick News highlights new Scottish Government legislation designed to give local authorities the power to cut business rates in a bid to regenerate high streets.

Hawick Community Council’s Christmas lights display is in tatters after falling foul of health and safety legislation. “The plaques on the walls on the High Street are definitely not satisfactory to accommodate the heavier panel lights,” says community council chair Marion Short.

Councillor Stuart Marshall calls for Hawick to have its own enforcement wardens to deal with illegal parking and dog fouling. He’s backed by fellow Hawick and Denholm member Watson McAteer who says it’s time to take action against those who flout the law.

The £10million whisky distillery destined for Commercial Road will provide a massive tourism boost for the town. That’s according to the Scotch Whisky Association which says “Whisky distilleries and visitor centres give a much-needed boost to the economy, the job market and bring growing numbers of international tourists”.

A new and innovative Early Years Centre opens at Burnfoot Community School. The facility, a joint venture between Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders, offers a range of drop-in facilities and programmes for local parents and children aged nine months to eight years.

The next phase of the regeneration of Wilton Lodge Park will see seven trees removed to form a vista from the museum over to the Gilbert Davidson Fountain and across the River Teviot.

December

Future Hawick takes advantage of the Borders Railway by busing almost 50 visitors to the town. “This has been a real success,” says chairman Derick Tait. “Everyone had a great time and we now have almost 50 people who now know about our town and what it has to offer.”

Five tenders are lodged for construction of the new cafe and bridge in Wilton Lodge Park.

The festive countdown gets into full swing as the annual Christmas parade lights up a wet and windy town centre. Hundreds of participants in a variety of costumes add a sprinkling of seasonal cheer to the High Street.

Hawick Volunteer Flood Group chairman Stuart Marshall says the “indomitable Teri spirit” played a huge part in how the town coped with the floods which engulfed Hawick. Flood group volunteers, Salvation Army, emergency services, townsfolk and council workers work round the clock to fill sandbags, help with evacuations and provide bedding, clothing, food and drink to those affected. The scene of devastation leads to calls for Hawick’s new flood defence system to be brought forward. Local MSP John Lamont says the work must begin immediately.

Scottish Borders Council underlines its committment to a flood protection scheme for Hawick. But the local authority warns that if a public inquiry takes place because of objections in the later stages of the scheme, it may not be in place until 2023. Councillor Gordon Edgar, SBC’s executive member for infrastructure, urges people in Hawick to engage with the council’s project team during the design phase.

The Queen offers her sympathy for those affected by the floods and also praises the emergency services and volunteers.

Hawick and Denholm councillors Alastair Cranston, Stuart Marshall and Watson McAteer travel to Edinburgh to meet Community Empowerment Minister Marco Biagi, who will sign off any changes to local electoral boundaries in 2017.

Mr McAteer says it was good to meet the minister to present a “strong case for the status quo”.

Wilton Mills, one of the town’s last links to its rich industrial past, is demolished.