April opening planned for Gala shop after off-sales boost

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Described as a “community lifeline” when it closed in November 2014, a Galashiels shop is set to reopen in April, writes Andrew Keddie.

It follows the unanimous decision of the Scottish Borders Licensing Board on Friday to grant an off-sales licence to the new operators of the premises at 44 Tweed Road.

Run as an unlicensed general store and sub-post office by owners George and Cath Douglas for 32 years, the outlet will be leased to Adam Purves Galashiels Ltd, the car dealership which operates several forecourts/shops in the region.

Last year, the firm completed a major revamp at its Wilderhaugh shop in Galashiels, rebranding it to Spar.

In a statement to the board, the firm said the premises would operate as a “general convenience store for the surrounding residential area with a wide range of food and non-food items for sale”.

“The intention is for the premises to be open from around 6am till 10pm with no sale of alcohol outwith the core licensing hours [10am till 10pm].”

Earlier this month, company director Andy Purves described the impending reopening as “an exciting opportunity both for us and the local community”.

But he cautioned that, without an off-sales licence, the venture would not be viable.

This week Mr Purves welcomed the board’s decision.

“It was extremely positive to have our licence application for Tweed Road accepted,” he told The Southern.

“We are also very pleased with the enthusiastic response of local residents to the reopening which, all going well, could happen as early as April.”

There were no objections to the firm’s application for a premises licence.

There was, however, a letter of endorsement from near-neighbour Alastair Lings who wrote: “I support this application in the hope it will allow this shop to reopen and again provide a valuable service to the local community.”

The news was also welcomed by Galashiels and District councillor Sandy Aitchison.

“It was a great pity when the shop closed following the retiral of Mr and Mrs Douglas, who did such a sterling job for so many years, serving a very large community on the south-east of the town,” said Councillor Aitchison.

“I described it then as a community lifeline for that is what it was and I am absolutely delighted that a local company is now stepping into the breach.”