Council swings the axe at controversial tapestry site

Chopped trees and ground clearing at Tweedbank, site of the Great Tapestry of Scotland
Chopped trees and ground clearing at Tweedbank, site of the Great Tapestry of Scotland

Concerns have been raised following the felling of trees at the site of the proposed visitor centre to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland in Tweedbank.

Brian McCrow of Cardrona – a seasoned campaigner against the building of the visitor centre – blasted the council’s decision to go ahead with the removal of trees at the proposed tapestry site when the question of funding from the Scottish Government was still in question.

Last March, Mr McCrow handed over a 4.303 signature petition calling on the council to scrap its £3.5million commitment to the visitor centre, only to be told that it was “not valid” as it was not “on the SBC prescribed form and only has a postcode for individuals rather than a full address”.

This week, in an online update to petition signers, he said: “I’m convinced that I’m living in an Orwellian nightmare with SBC councillors saying that they welcome residents’ involvement in decision-making about cost savings, but ignoring the majority support in the recent SBC poll for stopping the Great Tapestry building as the most important cost-saving action.”

He added: “SBC has also pressed ahead with removing trees at the tapestry site, even though the decision is currently being reviewed by a scrutiny sub-group.

“Also, our constituency MSP Christine Grahame, has asked Fiona Hislop, Culture Secretary, to review the business case for the Great Tapestry building.” (see letters: P34).

The Scottish Government is indeed currently reviewing the business case for the centre – and it appears the £2.5million commitment from Holyrood towards the tapestry building hinges upon the outcome of that review.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has made a commitment to work with Scottish Borders Council and the Trustees of the Tapestry, as well as other funders, to support the creation of a visitor hub to deliver a fitting home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland and we have funding up to £2.5m earmarked in the proposed budget for this purpose.

“Any investment decision by Scottish Government remains subject to the submission of a fully robust business case.

“The due diligence process to review the business case is ongoing.”

Last week, Councillor Stuart Bell, the leader of the SNP group at the council, said: “I know that the Scottish Government’s processes required a review and I understood this was already under way.

“Should that review find against the business case, then I expect the Scottish Government funding will be in doubt, which would completely change the situation.”

Scottish Borders Council said the reason for felling the trees now was due to the breeding season for birds.

A spokesman said: “Trees had to be felled before the start of the bird breeding season, which runs from March to August, otherwise it could not have taken place until autumn 2016, thus delaying the delivery of the project.”

Tories in bid to scupper tapestry site – Page 8