Andrew Farquhar is to be congratulated on his exposé on the Tweedbank tapestry fiasco in last week’s Hawick News, and the wholly reprehensible role played by Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker in proceedings.
While the location will not change, we are now to have a review of the decision-making process, carried out by a committee of councillors who voted it through in the first place. No doubt some mandarin has been consigned to a darkened room at Council HQ to come up with a remit which will allow all involved to be exonerated, further wasting council tax-payers’ money.
While the remit may still have to be finalised, local press reports indicate that
the committee will investigate whether there was a full option appraisal of all possible sites and business plans. Well, we already know the answer to that one. A response to a FOI question confirmed that no other sites had been investigated, and Mr Parker has often told us that the trustees said the
tapestry had to go to Tweedbank.
That raises a first issue for the committee to investigate – what right does an unelected cabal have to tell a council where to spend public money?
A second question is raised concerning the Tweedbank business plan – why, when the trustees’ specific mandate was that the tapestry should be free to view, was a business plan prepared and allowed to proceed on the basis of a £10 adult admission fee?
Nor can the planning process escape scrutiny. When approval was confirmed, it was with a concern that parking issues needed to be addressed, and Mr Parker promptly announced to the press that parking provision was to be catered for by the demolition of two adjacent buildings, all part of the grand plan. This begs the questions, why did such an integral proposal not form
part of the planning submission for the project, and were those who work in the buildings consulted or did they have to read about it in the press? The supplementary, is of course, are business relocation costs part of the overall budget?
And a last one for the pot – in an attempt to elicit information about a shuttle bus scheme with a council officer, correspondence stopped when Mr Parker’s name was mentioned. Why?
Those of my generation may be familiar with an American reggae singer called Johnny Nash. In the 1970s he had a hit record with the appositely titled ‘There are more questions than answers’. His follow-up was called ‘I can see clearly now”, but as far as the Tweedbank tapestry is concerned, I doubt if we ever will.