Wilton Mills wrecking ball delayed one week

Wilton Mills and clock tower.
Wilton Mills and clock tower.

Plans to demolish one of the last iconic links to Hawick’s industrial past have been delayed until next weekend.

Wilton Mills and the clock tower were due to come down today (Friday) but last-minute red tape and the prospect of adverse weather have postponed the demolition to next Friday (December 11).

And today, Scottish Borders Council looks set to accept the recent decision by the government recorder which will prohibit the development of an Aldi supermarket on the site.

But this week the majority of Hawick’s councillors appeared to support the bid.

Councillor Watson McAteer said: “I welcome the prospect of Aldi coming to Hawick. The opportunity for new jobs, a vibrant and fresh Commercial Road, increased visitors and a wider choice for shoppers, coupled with visible evidence of growth and recovery make this a complete no-brainer and I hope all councillors will fight for this.”

Fellow ward member Stuart Marshall added: “It really is important that we explore all options available to us to get this site developed.

“We are in a position where one of the most successful names in retail wants to come to Hawick and I think it would be wrong not to support them.”

Councillor Davie Paterson said: “I personally think that Aldi would have been a great thing for the town. Aldi in Gala is extremely busy and brings in a lot of people. I don’t see any reason why [a] Hawick [store] wouldn’t do the same. I’d like to see this area developed and bring much-needed jobs to Hawick.

“I can see where the reporter is coming from when he states that he does not want this area to be used for retail, but the harsh reality is that we aren’t going to get hundreds of manufacturing jobs into the town, well certainly not in the near future, but what the reporter is probably mindful of is that once you lose a prime industrial site like this it will be lost forever.”

Councillor Alastair Cranston would only say that he “agreed completely” with Mr Paterson’s comments.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull said: “There is a briefing meeting [today, Friday] and this will allow members to seek clarification from council officials and I doubt successful challenges will be made to the reporter’s findings.”

He added: “I’ve had a mixed reaction from my constituents about yet another supermarket development for Hawick. There has to be a balance as we are desperately trying to regenerate our High Street and also develop other key areas of the town and we all know how difficult that is to achieve.”

Councillor Ron Smith did not respond to our questions on the Aldi bid.