CALLS have been made for a public meeting in the town hall to discuss controversial proposals to move Hawick Common Good cash into a central pot.
The demand was made at a meeting of Teviot and Liddesdale Area Committee on Tuesday night, where Scottish Borders Council’s plans to move all eight common good funds into one lump sum to achieve a greater return – a single investment strategy – was a special item on the agenda to be discussed.
And although around 40 members of the public crowded into the room in Tower Mill – with all fiercely opposed to Hawick losing any control of its valuable Common Good Fund – it was agreed that the issue needed to be aired on a larger scale in front of the relevant officials.
With Council Leader David Parker and chairman of the Common Good Working Group, Carolyn Riddell-Carr, had been unable to attend Tuesday night’s meeting, Councillor Stuart Marshall told the Hawick News: “The area committee was right to have the issues debated, but I agree that given the complexity of the proposals, it is vitally important that an invitation be sent to those who feel differently from the majority.
“They are the people who should be given the chance to address townsfolk in order to hear their concerns, and also explain in greater detail the pros and cons of this whole thing.”
With feelings running high on Tuesday night there was one clear message relayed to committee chairman Jock Houston – Teries are against the council’s proposals.
Alan Brydon stated: “The Common Good belongs the people of Hawick.”
Ian Fraser added: “We want more control, not less, determined by Hawick people.”
And alluding to the need to win the vote at St Boswells, Tom Hartop commented: “We need as many councillors on our side as we can.”
But pointing out the possibility of losing the vote and Hawick’s funds being pooled, Councillor Houston asked the meeting which safeguards should be written in – agreeing on the right to opt in or out, how much money goes in, and the ability to come out with no penalties.
Councillor Zandra Elliot, who is fiercely opposed to any single investment, has begun a petition which is circulating the town.
But SBC’s consultation period into the proposed strategy has been extended until July 15, on which Mary Beck added: “Everyone should write to David Parker and let him know how we feel.”
n Soap Box page 10