THERE is little hope that Scotland’s oldest youth hostel, situated at Broadmeadows in the Yarrow Valley, will be kept open beyond the summer, unless user numbers can be almost doubled.
That was the view this week of local Scottish Borders councillor Vicky Davidson, speaking after Monday’s crunch meeting between community representatives and Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA) chief executive Keith Legge. She had organised the meeting, which was held in Yarrowford Hall and attended by a number of interested parties who wish to see the hostel survive beyond this summer.
Opened in 1931, Broadmeadows is one of the last three existing hostels run by the SYHA in the Borders. It was disclosed in November that all three were scheduled for closure this year – the other two being at Melrose and Kirk Yetholm. SYHA has cited low occupancy rates as a main reason for closing the facility, with figures showing levels for its summer season in 2011 only reaching 13 per cent.
Members of Ettrick and Yarrow Community Council, the Revitalising the Valleys Steering Group and local tourism and event organisations were among those who met Mr Legge.
Councillor Davidson told us: “We discussed in detail various ideas to reduce costs and increase visitor numbers with a view to trying to save the hostel beyond this season. We outlined plans for the area which could potentially bring more visitors, especially cyclists, and discussed ways to improve the hostel’s visibility on social media sites.
“We particularly asked the SYHA to look again at the opening times of the hostel to include Easter and beyond mid-August, and discussed the potential for groups to book it for exclusive use out of season.
“It was useful to explore these options, but we were not given a great deal of hope that it would continue beyond this summer unless visitor numbers could be substantially increased, possibly doubled.”
Mr Legge said: “I was pleased to attend a constructive meeting with members of the community at Yarrowford on Monday. During this meeting, I reiterated that the charity was willing to consider any serious proposals regarding Broadmeadows Youth Hostel.”
There are hopes that a community takeover of the threatened hostel at Yetholm might be possible, while further proposals are due to be discussed today for a local hotel in the Melrose area to offer hostel-type accommodation and facilities when the town’s SYHA property closes.