SBC comes under fire over shops

Some of the shabbiest shops in Hawick are owned by Scottish Borders Council.

And Councillor George Turnbull says the local authority should be setting an example by sprucing up their properties.

In a presentation to Teviot and Liddesdale Area Forum on Tuesday evening, Councillor Turnbull highlighted areas of the town which have been blighted by chewing gum, cigarette ends, overgrown vegetation and litter.

But the focus was placed firmly on SBC when one businesswoman said shops owned by SBC were among the worst examples in the town.

Photographer Lesley Fraser, who operates her business from a council-owned property at the Sandbed, said: “Some of the worst shops are owned by the council itself. The shop at 6 Howegate is a disgrace and the others next door to me in Buccleuch Street are not a good advert for the town.

“In our lease it states that we are responsible for painting our shop front every three years. That applies to us but the council don’t do it.”

Speaking to the Hawick News this week, Councillor Turnbull conceded that some local authority-owned properties are in need of attention and that the council should be setting an example.

“It is about civic pride. People and businesses should be taking responsibility for their shops and properties and that includes Scottish Borders Council. I will be taking the issues raised by Lesley Fraser up with the relevant people.”

Mr Turnbull’s slideshow highlighted full and overflowing guttering, missing and broken rhone pipes, rotting and shabby shop fronts, missing or damaged blockwork and kerbstones and other unsightly examples of deterioration.

Councillor Stuart Marshall said the area forum should have the power to enforce shop owners and landlords to clean up their act.

He added: “At one time this committee was able to enforce owners to tidy up and repair buildings where necessary.

“This is a power we appear to have lost. I would like to see that reinstated.

Community council chair Marion Short said her council was arranging a larger-than-usual annual spring clean to coincide with this year’s Common-Riding celebrations.