There seems to me to be a few misconceptions floating around town about the draft proposals by the Council for possible changes in the way in which Common Goods are run.
Hawick’s Common Good has assets worth well over £3 million - buildings, land, farms, timber, the golf course, paintings in the Town Hall, the Provost’s chain, cash and investments etc. The draft proposals which are out for consultation concern only three or four per cent of the assets of the Common Good-the investments in stocks and shares.
There is no threat to the land, farms,property, timber, golf course, cash or any other assets and no threat to their control by the town’s six Councillors.
All that is being proposed in relation to the eight Common Goods in the Borders is that they put their investments in stocks and shares into a Common Pool, which should make them safer, less vulnerable to market fluctuations and higher yielding.
This principle is exactly the one adopted by the Common Goods of Hawick, Jedburgh and Kelso about 25 years ago when they put their stocks and shares into a Common Pool and they have done very nicely out of it ever since!
In a sense what is happening now is that the five other Common Goods, Gala, Selkirk, Peebles etc want to follow our example and enlarge the Common Pool for stocks and shares from three members to eight.
The Councillors who are the Trustees for each Common Good would decide how much to put into the Pool and the income and costs would be shared pro rata.
It is being said in the town that Hawick’s Common Good will be forced to take its investments out of the Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso Common Pool and put them into the proposed larger Pool.
However the town’s Area Committee decided at its public meeting on 21 June that it was against the larger Pool and asked the Leader of the Council to consider three principles: that each Common Good chooses to opt-in or not: that each decides how much to put in, starting at nothing: that each can choose to opt-out at any time with no penalties.
Seems perfectly reasonable to me.
Even if only one of these principles is adopted Hawick’s Common Good stocks and shares would not be in a Common Pool -if that is what the people of the town want and I think it is. Let’s wait and see the Council’s actual recommendation in August
The overcast day did not dampen the spirits of the enthusiastic children and adults who attended this year’s Vertish Hill Sports and a great day was had by all on the ‘Hill’.
However, the running of any event is due in no small part to the contribution of many organisations and individuals, namely the Police, Hawick Scout Pipe Band, the Lynella Highland Dancers, Red Cross, The Evergreen Club and the Golf Club for the use of their facilities. Unfortunately the Saxhorn Band were unable to take part in the procession, though they did play at the Sports. Let’s hope that before long they are back to a full complement of members.
The people of Hawick have also over the years with their contributions kept the Sports on a sound financial basis, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them. A special mention must go to the 1514 Club, Lockies, Hume and Tait, and Hawick Motor and Tyre Centre, for their outstanding contributions.
There have now been 130 Vertish Hill Sports. Since they were first held way back in 1881, even two World Wars have failed to interrupt the Sports; in my mind I have no doubt this is due in no small part to a committee that is forever evolving - old members drop off but younger ones take up the baton, and become a credit to the founding fathers of 1881.
Last but not least could I thank all the children who took part in this year’s Sports. Without you there would be no Sports.
Hope to see you all next year on the ‘Hill’ for the 131st Vertish Hill Sports.
President, Vertish Hill Sports Committee
Over the last year our six Scottish Borders councillors, two Conservatives, two Liberal Democrats and two Independents (five on the ruling Executive at St. Boswells) earned collectively a total of £124,153.12p.
In my opinion that is a massive amount of money. The question is have they earned the money providing constituents with what they need? If I was to answer my own question I would say no, individual councillors might be able to help one or two of their constituents, however, an overall policy to boost Hawick socially and economically has failed. I will leave Hawick News readers to make up their own minds.