Melrose campaigners switch focus from hostel buyout

THE group campaigning to save Priorwood House in Melrose as a youth hostel has now split into two organisations, after it was decided the property was too big and expensive.

The Friends of Melrose Youth Hostel was set up earlier this year with a view to persuading Scottish youth hostel bosses to donate their Melrose property to it free of charge or at least sell the building so it can run it itself.

The Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA) opted to close its last three remaining properties in the Borders – Melrose, Kirk Yetholm and Broadmeadows near Selkirk – this year.

SYHA’s reasons have been lack of user numbers and because too much money needs spent on the properties to bring them up to standard.

The hostel at Kirk Yetholm has now been sold and the same fate awaits the other two properties. John Hawkins from Melrose, has been involved with FMYH, which wanted to acquire Priorwood House and run it as a hostel.

However, this week Mr Hawkins informed TheSouthern that the FMYH was now downgrading to just the ‘Friends of Melrose Hostel’ and looking at setting up a small independent backpackers’ hostel or similar, in or near the town, on the basis that Priorwood House is too big for use as a hostel and too expensive as a community buyout project.

He says a new group focusing on retaining Priorwood House as some sort of community facility will probably emerge in the near future.

“This means that two separate groups will be concerned with two separate objectives, but no doubt there will be some people with a foot in both camps,” explained Mr Hawkins.