SBC should keep its hands off fund for Gala’s needy

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By the time of his resignation as leader of Scottish Borders Council in the spring of 2002, Drew Tulley had become a polarising and controversial character.

However, it should not be forgotten that in a long career dedicated to public service, it was his voice that fought the Borders’ corner tirelessly at both national and local level – and it is now time once again for local people to listen and take heed of that voice.

Because this week we report on attempts by Scottish Borders Council officials to meddle with the constitution of the Galashiels Local Relief Fund – a body set up in 1943 to help the elderly needy of that town.

Forced to ditch its plans to use a £420,000 bequest from the late secretary of the fund, George Knox, to create a healthy living centre, the council now appears to be trying to interfere with the running of the fund – something Mr Tulley, a long-time friend of Mr Knox and an executor of his will, says smacks of “sour grapes”.

Unfortunately, Mr Knox did not explicitly stipulate in his will that the cash should be solely channelled through the fund to help folk in Galashiels, but we agree with Mr Tulley that the former town clerk would have baulked at the healthy living centre scheme and that the fund is better placed to spend interest from the bequest.

For more than 60 years, the fund has worked quietly and discreetly to help the needy of Galashiels.

Perhaps in a week when SBC has abandoned a highly-controversial and expensive consultants’ report into sports facilities – meaning £30,000 of taxpayers’ money down the drain – it should keep its hands off a well-run and respected organisation like the Galashiels Local Relief Fund.