Council approves funding for Common-Riding celebrations

FUNDING from Scottish Borders Council for the town’s annual Common-Riding celebrations has been secured.

The grant of £9,300 was approved by the local authority at a recent meeting, despite concerns over the amount of cash held in reserve by the Common-Riding Committee.

The local group currently has just over £180,000 in the bank ahead of the Hornshole quincentenary celebrations next year, while other festivals also boast healthy accounts.

A report by funding officer Jean Robertson said: “This leads to the assumption that the grant being allocated to these local festivals is merely contributing to the reserves levels year on year and is not actually being used for the purpose provided.”

Hawick Common-Riding costs around £80,000 to stage and last year’s event, which, like many, suffered due to the weather, saw a profit of £2,612.

But Common-Riding Committee chairman Stuart Marshall, who is also the local member for Hawick and Denholm, hit back and revealed that numerous functions which were previously the responsibility of SBC are now organised and paid for by themselves.

This includes the hire of the town hall and payments to the council’s roads and parks departments to supply services.

Mr Marshall said: “Grants like these are a must if our Common-Ridings and festivals are to survive, especially when continued bad weather and a decline in sponsorships can easily wipe out many a healthy bank balance.

“This grant contributes towards the hiring of the town hall, gritting the Chases, the purchase of flowers from the parks department for the Colour Bussing and hiring of marquees, so you could say that this money actually finds its way back into the public purse in some way or another.

“Our Common-Riding is a huge attraction to folk from all over the world and many of our businesses in the town benefit as a result.

“Because of this money, we can now plan ahead with confidence.”

Hawick and Galashiels receive the largest grant from a pot of £82,360 which is divided up in terms of towns’ population.