No problem with tapestry process, says chief executive

Councillor Renton, Tracey Logan and 16 of the 28 modern apprentices currently employed by SBC.
Councillor Renton, Tracey Logan and 16 of the 28 modern apprentices currently employed by SBC.

There was nothing wrong with the way Scottish Borders Council determined and approved the £6million visitor centre for the Great Tapestry of Scotland at Tweedbank.

That is the conclusion of chief executive Tracey Logan in response to a complaint from an Innerleithen community councillor, who was one of 77 objectors to the bid to construct the building.

Retired businessman Brian McCrow had given a presentation outlining his 
opposition to the council’s planning application for 
the site opposite the new Tweedbank rail terminal when the committee met on October 5.

After an hour-long session, the planning committee unanimously granted consent for the development, albeit with only four elected members making the decision.

After the meeting, Mr McCrow emailed Ms Logan, who had watched the debate from the public benches, to register his displeasure.

He claimed chairman Councillor Ron Smith (Lib Dem, Hawick and Hermitage) should not have allowed supporters of the application to give verbal statements containing “not a glimmer of the planning issues”.

In addition, he believed SBC’s senior planning officer John Hayward had, at the outset of the meeting, “dismissed the 70 plus [online] objections as not being planning based”.

In her response to Mr McCrow, Ms Logan, rejects the suggestion that Mr Hayward dismissed all the submitted objections out of hand.

She says Mr Hayward had “correctly” directed the committee to disregard those objections which did not relate to material planning matters.

“With regard to the verbal presentations by supporters of the application, they focused very much on the economic benefits of the proposal and how these would be maximised by the tapestry building’s location close to the railway station,” states Ms Logan.

“These are perfectly legitimate planning matters and I therefore see no reason why Councillor Smith should have intervened.”

Mr McCrow said this week he did not intend taking the matter further.

However, he confirmed he would lodge an official complaint with the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Scotland (Standards Commission) about two members of SBC’s petitions committee – chairman, Councillor Alec Nicol and council leader David Parker.

That body met on October 1 and agreed to take no action over Mr McCrow’s 4,400-signature petition calling for the council to overturn its decision to spend £3.5million on the tapestry building.