SBC fires broadside over hypocrisy claims

Scottish Borders Council has come out fighting against claims that it has turned its back on promoting tourism in Hawick.

The local authority has refuted allegations of hypocrisy levelled at it by the Callants Club, after it was revealed in last week’s Hawick News that the town was never in the running to become home to the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

The Callants Club criticised the tapestry trustees and SBC for admitting that Tweedbank was always the favoured location, due to its proximity to the new railway station.

And the Common-Riding group is further angered by what it says has been a complete disregard for a report commissioned by the council in 2009, which stressed that action needed to be taken to ensure that ancestral and wider tourism in the town was of a sufficient standard to ensure the success of the Heart of Hawick project.

Callants Club secretary Brian Tait asserted: “By going to Tweedbank, SBC are ignoring the advice in the report and endangering the future of the Heart of Hawick. The tapestry is a golden opportunity to act in accordance with advice rather than compromise a £10million developement.”

But a spokesperson for SBC says the findings of the £8,000 report remain to the fore, stating: “The council has continued to invest money and time in ancestral tourism and remains deeply committed to the ongoing success of Hawick as a vibrant cultural and tourist destination.”

The council highlighted initiatives such as the Hub’s “Why go to Edinburgh when you can go to Hawick?” marketing campaign, and participation in Who Do You Think You Are 2014, as well as the successful Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, which this year attracted 53 filmmakers from all over the world.

But alluding to plans for a textile exhibition at Tweedbank, Mr Tait said: “Is this to dilute the attraction of a very successful Textile Towerhouse? Again, contrary to advice.”

And MSP John Lamont has voiced his fears for the future if the new railway remains the reasoning applied to every council decision. “It means that towns like Hawick will undoubtedly lose out on this and other investment decisions,” he said.