Hawick councillors believe Burnfoot estate has bright future despite being labelled as deprived

Burnfoot in Hawick
Burnfoot in Hawick

Hawick and Denholm councillors Watson McAteer and Stuart Marshall remain positive about the future of the town’s largest housing estate despite Burnfoot being labelled one of the most deprived areas in Scotland.

“We are working a lot in the area, and seeing substantial change for the better,” explained Mr McAteer.

“The hub, community school, early learning centre and the new road and speed signs are all positive aspects, and we firmly believe that things are changing shape in a positive way.”

Burnfoot was named in the latest Scottish Government index of multiple deprivation statistics.

That followed a report published on Scottish Borders Council’s website in 2014 claiming that Burnfoot residents lack access to a range of employment opportunities including part-time jobs and are heavily dependent on the manufacturing industry.

“We do have small pockets where there are problems, but the general message is that there are really positive signs of progression in both the standard of living and employment opportunities,” said Mr Marshall.

Benefits dependency has always been high in Burnfoot, regardless of the state of the economy, and remains high despite efforts at community regeneration, according to the report.

It also highlights health as a major issue, with 15,489 emergency hospital admissions per 100,000 people compared to 12,163 in the Borders and 10,232 for Scotland as a whole.

Two years ago, Burnfoot was rated as worse than average for respiratory disease, with 2,337 admissions per 100,000 people, compared to 1,673 in the Borders and 1,603 nationally.

One of the most shocking statistics at that time showed that 41.6 per cent of first-time mums were under 19 years of age, compared to only 11.8 per cent in the Borders and 12.9 per cent in Scotland.

It also disclosed that 47.1 per cent of women smoke at the booking stage of their pregnancy – more than double the Borders average of 22.8 per cent and the Scottish figure of 19.3 per cent.

“What you have to remember is that Burnfoot is actually bigger than Jedburgh when it comes to population, with over 3,000 people living there,” added Mr McAteer.

“The vast majority of those people are terrific, and generally it is a great estate.

“Large numbers of people living in Burnfoot live in good conditions, have good jobs and are in good health and are not impacted by these statistics.

“There has been rapid change over the last 18 months, and while it is fair to recognise that there are still one or two problem pockets, we are constantly working to help make sure that the message is positive.”