Hawick wealth could be run by pool group

Assets of Hawick Common Good could be under threat if the control of cultural services is handed over to the Borders Sport and Leisure Trust.

That is the fear expressed by local officials in response to Scottish Borders Council’s decision to open discussions with the trust about the possible transfer of its libraries, museums, public halls and community centres.

Councillor Watson McAteer said: “Like others I will need convinced this is in the best interests of Hawick. BSLT appear to operate their trust well but whether or not taking on board museums, libraries and other public buildings fits their operating model will be a matter for them to agree.”

And voicing his concerns for the town, he added: “I have a concern that Hawick’s common good moveable assets are not catalogued and in such circumstances handing over any of our heritable artefacts is not something I would support.”

And this issue is also at the root of fellow Councillor Stuart Marshall’s reservations, who stated: “The possibility of a merger comes with a few concerns as far as Hawick goes at the moment.”

And although conceding the new arrangement could be beneficial, he warned: “We still have some outstanding issues and the detailing and recording of what belongs to our Common Good Fund is a starter.”

SBC’s cultural services employs 200 full-time staff and has an annual budget of nearly £5million, which in Hawick includes control of the Library, Border Textile Towerhouse, the Heart of Hawick cinema, cafe, units, Civic Space and the Hub, Hawick Museum and the town hall.

BSLT currently runs 14 facilities, whilst receiving an annual management fee of nearly £2.5million.

Mr McAteer says Hawick councillors have now insisted that cataloguing of Hawick Common Good items takes place, adding: “I understand it is underway but with over 50,000 articles in the museum this make take some time. The common good buildings are more accurately defined.”