High Street shops come in for more criticism

Community councillors, local members and SBC officials met in the town hall on Monday afternoon to discuss plans to regenerate the High Street.

Items discussed included funding opportunities, shop rates and the possibility of transforming shops into residential premises.

Council officials pointed out that High Streets the all over the country face similar problems and that an options including transforming shops from retail outlets to residential premises need to be considered.

The complicated funding and grant sector was explained and it was pointed out that timing is vital as it takes 18 months to prepare a bid and a further five years before it is fully implemented.

Once again, absent shop owners who have let their shops fall into disrepair came in for massive criticism but Councillor Davie Paterson is adamant that there is little the council can to do resolve the situation.

He said: “We can write to shop owners but we have few powers to force them to do anything. Scottish Borders Council just can’t afford to foot the bill for this type of thing and unless it’s a health and safety issue our hands are tied.”

Speaking to the Hawick News on Thursday, community councillor Wilson George said: “It was a good meeting but the issue about untidy shops needs to be sorted out. This is an ongoing problem which affects the whole High Street”

And new community council member Liz Adams added: “I was very pleased that our sub-group and SBC councillors were able to receive such helpful information from the chief officer for economic development and his two staff, who were able to answer our queries and offer valuable advice.”