MP looks for greater flexibility on Interchange office rental

John Lamont MSP
John Lamont MSP

Local MP John Lamont has criticised the inflexibility of the rules surrounding who can rent office space at the £5.2m Galashiels Interchange building.

Mr Lamont had expressed a wish to base his second constituency office in the building – 80% of which remains empty, more than two years after it was built.

However, his offer was turned down. Because the building was partially funded by EU money, a condition of this funding meant the majority of the space had to be occupied by small or medium sized businesses (SMEs).

The Conservative MP suggested taking the empty space under the condition that if a qualifying business was later found, he would vacate it.

“This compromise was rejected by the Scottish Government, which administers the European Fund involved.

Mr Lamont said: “In order to make is as easy as possible for constituents to access their local MP, I was keen to find an office in Galashiels in addition to my one in Hawick.

“The office space at Waverley Chambers is a fantastic facility with excellent transport links. The question is how many others who would be interested in renting some office space, are being turned away because they do not meet these conditions?

“There are already too many empty properties in Galashiels and we’re not going to turn this around by making it harder for people to rent space. I hope that common sense will prevail and the Council are allowed some degree of flexibility.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said: “Public sector uses are excluded from using this space as it was specifically developed to support new and growing businesses.

“It is for this reason that Mr Lamont’s request was rejected by the council.

“Any business interested in renting office space in the Interchange should contact Edwin Thompson LLP at: galashiels@edwin-thompson.co.uk”