Hawick could be twinned with another Scottish town as part of a joint bid to boost its economic growth.
Regeneration group Future Hawick’s application to the Carnegie Trust earlier this year to be part of its Twin Towns UK project has been rejected, but it is now set to go it alone.
The project is encouraging 10 towns to try out bilateral twinning arrangements over 18 months, with the successful applicants receiving joint planning support and access to additional funding.
Future Hawick was only informed of the failure of its bid on Christmas Eve, but it has already decided it will now seek a town itself within a 50 to 100-mile radius to twin with.
Derick Tait, chairman of the group, said: “It was disappointing not to be chosen by the Carnegie Trust as they provide back-up, but we’ve decided that we can’t just give up, and we’re going to see if we can twin with a town experiencing similar problems to ourselves to share and develop ideas and work for the mutual benefit of each other.”
No list of potential twin towns has yet been drawn up, but committee members will be meeting early next year to start the search for the best potential partnership.
Future Hawick was formed with the support of Scottish Borders Council in 2006, following the winding-up of the Hawick Partnership.
The group’s itinerary for 2017 is centred around doing its utmost to support Scottish Borders Council’s Hawick action plan, drawn up this year in an effort to revive the town’s fortunes.
Its plans include a dedicated programme of street events, a further phase of shop-front improvements, applying pressure on unco-operative landowners to encourage them to carry out maintenance work and finding alternative uses for derelict properties.
Mr Tait added: “Future Hawick is fortunate in having a dedicated group of volunteers who give their time and energy freely to the regeneration of the town.
“No expenses of any sort have ever been claimed, despite extensive travel having been involved in projects and their research, and it is worth noting that had a remunerative value been applied to the hours committed, even at recognised volunteering rates, a figure well in excess of £20,000 would be involved.
“Future Hawick is a group that must continue to move forward to meet the newer and bigger challenges.
“With the introduction of the 2015 Community Empowerment Act, the group is committed to working with partners from the private and public sectors, and to seek the necessary funding from different sources, to ensure the betterment of the town and its people.
“The group intends to take an active role in the development and implementation of the Hawick action plan.”