Forgive me for the forthcoming rhetoric; it’s undoubtedly an overused means for councillors to make it look as though they are actually doing something productive. But seriously, it is time that something (other than a condemnation by a public figure) was done about run-down and derelict buildings in the town.
You may think it rather harsh of me, but rather than follow suit with our local councillors and describe the pigeon-infested, unused mills as eyesores, I’ll go a step further. It is not only unacceptable for buildings to fall into such a state of disrepair, but irresponsible and disregardful. These dilapidated buildings would not look out of place in an abandoned town. They are a dirty smear on the map of Hawick. And along with the empty shops on our struggling High Street, they have the potential to make people think twice about visiting Hawick, or setting up business in the town. One building on Victoria Road, the unused mill next to the community hospital, has become nothing other than a giant pigeon coop. I’d be very surprised if a pane of glass remains unbroken on the neglected structure. The most shocking thing about this is that only a stone’s throw away sits the town’s main car park – hardly a great advert is it? Especially, if you’ve travelled via Commercial Road and past the crumbling Wilton Mills. It’s not unwise to think that these decrepit buildings, that are by no means the only ramshackle properties in the town, have the ability to put people off. Ask yourself what your initial thoughts would be, had you just visited the town for the first time and been confronted by so many ruins.
It pains me to say it, but sometimes the best way to deal with a problem is to admit it. Hawick has a deep problem, the town is in decline and without people working together, things can only get worse. Pressure needs to be applied on property owners; they need to be made accountable for the upkeep of their buildings.
If Hawick is to thrive again there needs to be reasons for businesses to believe they can be successful here. Now, I’m not saying the crumbling buildings are the reason Hawick is enduring prolonged economic woes, but at least if they were tidied up, prospective owners wouldn’t be put off by their ghost town image. That would be a start, at least.
It is rather unlikely that a pigeon racing enthusiast will snap up these properties, to provide a loft for his prized birds, even though the local pigeons have set up home quite comfortably. In fact, it would probably be hard to remove them now, squatter’s rights and all.