Future Hawick ups ante in absentee landlords battle

The rundown premises that used to house Uni-Parts.
The rundown premises that used to house Uni-Parts.

More needs to be done to tackle the menace of rundown shops on the town’s High Street.

And Future Hawick has written to Scottish Borders Council expressing concern over absent landlords who have abandoned properties.

The letter from chairman Derick Tait said: “At the recent board meeting of Future Hawick, considerable frustration and anxiety was expressed by the members of the sub-group dealing with shop frontage on the High Street.

“Over the last few months the sub-group has devoted considerable energy to contacting owners and agents of empty properties, and while there has been much achievement, there has been little in the way of successful conclusion to dialogue with the owners of the two biggest eyesores, both proving particularly uncooperative.”

The two “biggest eyesores” include the former Uni-Parts shop and Southern Reporter office.

The owner of the former car parts outlet has met with Future Hawick officials and he was made aware of concerns and also of the shop front improvement scheme.

And Mr Tait’s letter added: “A meeting with the owner was held in August when the sub-group offered to clean the windows, supply new blinds, and erect display banners. He was also advised of our shop front grant scheme for external improvements. All offers were declined, and matters have now reached a stage where he refuses to speak to the sub-group. Of particular concern now, is the broken glass in the door as very little pressure would be required for the glass to fall out.”

And of the former newspaper office, Mr Tait wrote: “The owner has failed to reply to our many messages and emails, some of which have been sent via his agents. We understand that he is exempt from rates as the property forms part of a listed building, but given its location and prominence (especially being adjacent to the Heart Of Hawick, one of our jewels), we find it astounding that he is allowed to keep the building in such an untidy condition.”

The letter concludes: “While there has been much dialogue with the owners, the dialogue has been very much one way, and as a voluntary group we feel very restrained in attempting to achieve our goals, especially when there has been such a keen interest in our shop front scheme from many other property owners on the High Street.

“I am therefore writing to seek council support and assistance, possibly through building control, to help us improve matters.

“Your guidance in this respect would be much appreciated, as would an indication of your plans for any actions and enforcements on High Street properties in Hawick.”

Speaking to the Hawick News this week, Mr Tait said: “The council have responded and we are currently arranging a meeting.”