Melrose group calls on SYHA to gift hostel in bid to halt closure

John Hawkins  of the Melrose Youth Hostel Core Group.

John Hawkins of the Melrose Youth Hostel Core Group.

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A COMMUNITY group wants Scottish youth hostel bosses to donate the Melrose youth hostel to it free of charge or at least sell the building so it can run it itself.

Melrose Youth Hostel is one of the last three surviving SYHA facilities in the Borders – the other two are at Kirk Yetholm and Broadmeadows in the Yarrow Valley – and all are earmarked for closure later this year.

The sign which is currently on the Melrose Youth Hostel which is due for closure.

The sign which is currently on the Melrose Youth Hostel which is due for closure.

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 organisation’s chief executive, Keith Legge, has now met with a number of community representatives from the three areas affected and has made it clear the organisation will listen to alternative proposals to closure.

However, what is also clear is that unless visitor numbers to these three hostels could be boosted significantly in a very short timespan, then the SYHA has firmly stated they will be closed and sold.

John Hawkins from Melrose, is spokesman for the newly-formed organisation, Friends of Melrose Youth Hostel (FMYH), and says those involved felt a separate stand-alone group was a better option than having an exisiting body, such as a community council, take on the task.

“We didn’t think it should be taken over by someone else, who would then be dealing with this issue as an adjunct to what they are already doing,” Mr Hawkins told us. “So we set up the Friends of Melrose Youth Hostel with the aim of acquiring the Melrose property and continuing to run it as a hostel, which is a vital asset for tourism in this part of the Borders.

“We have already contacted the Scottish Youth Hostel Association and asked it to consider donating the buidling to us, or at least letting us buy it from them. I have my doubts they will just hand the hostel over free of charge, but shy bairns get nae sweets as folks used to say around here.”

A number of local organisations are represented on the FMYH, including the local community council, Melrose Paths, Rolling Hills Folk Club and the local Rotary club.

Asked for a comment on the proposals from the FMYH, a spokesperson at SYHA Hostelling Scotland told TheSouthern this week: “No viable proposition has been received by SYHA Hostelling Scotland from any party.”