Members of Scottish Borders Council’s Teviot and Liddesdale area forum this week added their voices to opposition to plans to create a permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland in Galashiels.
Hawick and Denholm councillor Alastair Cranston told Tuesday’s meeting that he had abstained from December’s full council vote on the issue because, unlike the rest of the council’s SNP group, he is not in favour of the £6.8m tapestry centre plan.
He said: “The principle of bringing tourism to the Borders as a new industry is good, but it’s the huge amount of expenditure, as opposed to the other things that are important to the community, that I think is the biggest issue.
“It isn’t about the tourism that it is going to bring in but about the costs.”
The issue was raised by local videographer Colin Moxey, of Silverbuthall Road, saying: “We are wanting to do something to stop this.
“It’s not just Hawick but the whole of the Borders that is against this.
“We’re faced with increases in council tax.
“There were more than 6,000 signatures on a petition that went ignored. How can they do that? Where’s the democracy?
“It’s a modern work of art, and everybody’s seen it.
“The business model is flawed as they’re not going to get the numbers.”
Marion Short, chairwoman of Hawick Community Council, told him: “We all took part in a consultation when the idea first came out about and, as a community council, our majority feeling was that we were against the tapestry as well.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson said: “We’re having to make some cuts in my ward, and I wasn’t prepared to back this because when we’re facing cuts, how could I justify this to my constituents? I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t justify that.
“I didn’t support it, and I’m glad that I didn’t support this.
“We face these massive cuts, but suddenly they spend all these millions of pounds on something that we’re not even going to own.”
Area forum chairman George Turnbull, a councillor for Hawick and Hermitage, agreed, saying: “I certainly wouldn’t have been voting for it even if it had been in Hawick.
“The business plan didn’t stand up from day one.
“It’s had a long two-and-a- half-year passage where we were told it’s Tweedbank or nothing, and things just got changed and massaged to get there. It just does not stack up.” Hawick and Denholm councillor Watson McAteer said: “I am convinced that we were right not to vote for it on the day, and I am convinced that we are still right.”
Fellow Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall added: “Right from the start, I said no to this project.
“We were previously accused by certain councillors of pitching Hawick against Gala, but that was very unfair because, for me, it could have been Gala, Tweedbank or Timbuktu, and it doesn’t matter.
“The timing is wrong for investing that kind of money on that scale.
“When you see the state that the roads are in and when you see the state that the schools are in, there are other priorities that we need to address as a council.”
Mr Moxey said he now aims to write to Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MP John Lamont and Scottish Government culture secretary Fiona Hyslop to argue against what he slammed as a “misuse of public money”.
The 469ft-long tapestry, completed in 2013 and now destined to find a permanent home in Channel Street and next-door High Street in Galashiels, is made up of 160 embroidered panels, a dozen of them stitched by volunteers in the Borders, two of them partially in Hawick.