Not too late for ‘another look’ at tapestry project

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Since the last time I wrote to the papers the saga of the tapestry building has rumbled on unabated. It is worth noting that the tapestry project was initially passed at a full council meeting by only 18 councillors (all of the SNPs, the Liberals and most of the so-called group of ‘Independents’). Then it was the turn of the petitions committee, Councillor David Parker (the leader himself), Councillor Stuart Bell SNP, and Councillor Alec Nichol who is a Liberal, and as it turns out his wife was one of the tapestry ‘stitchers’ but he failed to mention this particular interest at the hearing. This committee is now under investigation by the Standards Board having subjected Brian McCrow to derision and scorn rather than listening to voice of the 4,400 petitioners.

Finally, the last hurdle, the planning committee, was

reduced to only four members, the others feeling they could not partake due to previously expressed views on the project. It was chaired by Ron Smith and the remaining three SNP councillors, all

of whom voted their support for the project at the outset.

Like most Borderers, I understand that the councillors are an elected body and as such there is no particular skillset required of them. Many lack experience of business and are not used to considering multi-million pound projects. However, sitting behind this group are the council executives and officers. The chief executive, Tracey Logan, is paid £129,000 plus pension and perks, and the corporate programmes and services director, Rob Dixon, is paid £107,000 plus pension and perks. They have both ‘led’ on the project, and all around them is a highly-paid cohort of professional, career, public sector spenders of money.

When the project’s finances fail they should all be held to account. I’m sure we’re all fed up with them walking off into a new post or retirement leaving catastrophe in their wake.

The last laugh on us is that when there is no more money to lose even the tapestry trustees will simply walk away, carefree, having had this hugely expensive edifice built for them without any liability on their part.

The December issue of the Scottish Field magazine carries an article titled ’Bordering on the ridiculous’ which highlights the fact that these very same council officers, while taking on tapestry loans, have already made 22 members of the council redundant this year and have provision for a further 55 more redundancies in 2016-2017. This really sums it up and all concerned should hang their heads in shame.

To those listed above I’d simply say this, it is never too late to say: “Stop and let’s have another look at it,” and I, like many Borderers, would applaud their integrity and courage if they did so now.

Neil Ballantyne