Councillor put on the spot over disabled access

Hawick Rugby Trust's Alastair Cranston
Hawick Rugby Trust's Alastair Cranston

Councillor Alastair Cranston came under fire during a disabled access debate on Tuesday night in the town hall.

And despite failing to answer the same question several times from a member of the public whose husband is virtually house-bound, the Hawick and Denholm member felt he was being made a “scapegoat”.

Linda Deeks asked Mr Cranston: “I provided you with names of nine potential funders who may have been in a position to help us to raise the money to have disabled ramp access installed at our house. You said you would take this up for us and I want to know what you have done? How many of the names I gave you have you contacted and what was the outcome?”

Mr Cranston did not respond to Mrs Deeks on three occasions before she pressed him into saying: “I am quite happy to give you an update later on.”

This drew an audible gasp from many in the public gallery.

The plight of the Silverbuthall couple was first highlighted in the Hawick News in April, 2014. Three days later, Mrs Deeks attended Hawick Community Council to ask for assistance to have disabled access installed.

Mr Cranston said he would take the issue up for the couple and the next day he visited their home. Five months later Mrs Deeks supplied the councillor with names of potential funding sources.

At the end of the meeting, the Hawick News asked Mr Cranston if he understood Mrs Deeks’ frustration and did he feel he’d let the couple down?

He told us: “I have been in touch with funders and I can prove that. I can fully understand why Mrs Deeks is angry and I will be getting onto this again. This has gone on long enough now.”

Asked why he didn’t tell Mrs Deeks during the debate, Mr Cranston added: Are people looking for a scapegoat here?”

Speaking to the Hawick News the next day, Mrs Deeks was clearly still very upset, and told us: “We feel bitterly let down here and to be honest we don’t quite know what to do or where to go now.

“I really did think Mr Cranston was the answer to our problems but he has let us down and this has dome nothing for my husband’s health.”