Councillors in united stance over IT jobs call

Town councillors have united in their call for the 200 jobs – set to be created following a deal struck between Scottish Borders Council and a global IT firm – to be based in Hawick.

The local authority rubberstamped a £92million digital services contract with Canadian firm CGI on Monday, and part of the agreement will see the creation of a Scottish Centre of Excellence in an as yet undecided location in the Borders.

Hawick’s elected members have moved quickly to champion the town as a suitable home for the centre, and while wholeheartedly welcoming news of the IT jobs, Stuart Marshall appealed to CGI to “give serious consideration to Hawick, as a jobs boost of this scale would go a long way to solving many of our town’s economic issues”. He also said a jobs windfall of this magnitude for Hawick would demonstrate there is life beyond Tweedbank.

Ron Smith commented: “Ideally, we would want the whole complex based in Hawick. But wherever in the central Borders it is sited, Hawick folk will be able to seek employment there.”

Watson McAteer said he was aware of some “local intelligence” that suggested the IT jobs would be based in Hawick. He added: “I’ve been in contact with the council’s economic development head [Bryan McGrath] to establish the veracity of the rumours and lend myweight to the solid arguments justifying Hawick as the best location for the new jobs.”

Davie Paterson told us he had contacted council leader David Parker and chief executive Tracey Logan, urging them to consider Hawick as a home for the IT centre. “This is a golden opportunity for Hawick and would provide some much-needed investment in our town,” he said.

George Turnbull said: “I’ll be pushing that Hawick is in the equation to house this new IT facility. We have an abundance of buildings that could be renovated and brought back into use . . . Hawick deserves a real boost after all the misery of job losses.”

Also supporting calls for the IT centre to be based in Hawick is local Tory MSP John Lamont, who said it was a “fantastic opportunity for the council to do its bit and bring new jobs to the town”.

Asked when a decision would be taken on the location of the new centre of excellence, a council spokesperson would only say: “The location of the Scottish ICT Delivery Centre of Excellence that CGI plans to establish in the Borders has yet to be determined. A formal announcement will be made as soon as more information is available.”

CGI did not respond to our request for a comment, but Tim Gregory, the firm’s UK president, said that the opening of the Borders Railway was key to the deal being struck. “Access to communication hubs is very imporant,” he told our sister paper, The Southern Reporter.