It’s time to act, SBC told

Scottish Borders Council is coming under increasing pressure to take “tangible action” over Hawick’s faltering economy.

The call from Councillor Watson McAteer comes in the wake of last week’s jobs bombshell at Peter Scott.

The firm is likely to cease production at its Buccleuch Street mill, with 48 staff at risk of redundancy.

Mr McAteer told the Hawick News he had met with council officers to see what was on offer for the town.

“The answer, I’m afraid, brings no encouragement, with the Hawick action plan (a joint SBC-Scottish Government initiative launched in March in response to the closure of Hawick Knitwear in January) apparently still being fine-tuned,” he said.

Mr McAteer added that he had been told by SBC there was interest in Hawick from businesses looking to relocate, but the local authority refused to divulge any further details due to what it claimed were “commercially-sensitive clauses”.

Mr McAteer said that was outrageous and left him unable to reassure locals that their interests were being looked after. “I want to see set targets with clear timelines and milestones that demonstrate that action is tangible and much more than simply words,” he added.

Councillor Marshall said he was sick of hearing about investment in the central Borders to the exclusion of everywhere else.

“It is simply not good enough that the largest town in the Borders is not receiving its rightful share of investment, support and commitment,” he said.

A Scottish Borders Council spokesman said the local authority and Scottish Enterprise were working with bosses at Peter Scott in a bid to retain manufacturing in Hawick.

The spokesperson also alluded to the action plan, which contains ideas for making Hawick a great place to live, work, visit and invest in.

He continued: “The council and public-sector partners have been meeting to take forward key actions within this plan and have identified a number of which it is hoped can be developed quickly and which will have a positive impact on the town.

“The business and wider community have an important role to play in making the most of the action plan, in particular delivering in areas such as tourism and the positive promotion of the town.”