Councillor Davie Patersion performed a spectacular U-turn yesterday by backing plans to bring the Tapestry of Scotland to Tweedbank.
Despite telling the Hawick News he would not support the project, claiming the business case did not “stack up”, he voted in favour of the proposal at yesterday’s full council meeting in St Boswells.
And figures made avaialable to councillors minutes before yesterday’s meeting show that Scottish Borders Council will borrow £3.5million over 30 years to fund the project, which means a loan payback of £7million with yearly payments amounting to approximately £209,000.
This move will see the Hawick and Hermitage member mired in controversy once again following months of garden waste misery.
In an email exchange with the Hawick News last week, Mr Paterson, who is the town’s only portfolio holder in the ruling group at St Boswells, wrote: “I most certainly will not be supporting this move when the council have had to make so many drastic cuts to vital services.
“We got a briefing yesterday [Tuesday, December 9] about the proposed new home for the tapestry and to be honest I wasn’t and I am still not convinced that it will stack up. The Scottish Executive are all for this but I would like to see them coming up with the money not the hard-pressed council tax payers of the Scottish Borders.”
Asked if voting against the administration would place him in an awkward position, Mr Paterson said: “It does but I just can’t possibly justify this.”
And in an email circulated earlier this week to many of his constituents, Mr Paterson reiterated that he would not support the tapestry bid due to the sums of money involved and that he was unconcerned over sanctions he may face from the ruling administration: “I will not be supporting the tapestry on Thursday and they can do what they like to me. Try telling that to people that are struggling at the moment to pay their council tax, mortgage or rent or try telling that to the many people in our town that are forced to have to go to a food bank to survive.
Councillor Ron Smith voted to back the proposals but Councillors McAteer, Marshall and Turnbull voted against it.
The Hawick News tried several times to contact Mr Paterson but he was unavailable for comment.