Wetherspoon sets sights on Peebles pub

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PUB and restaurant chain JD Wetherspoon is planning to open its third Borders pub in Peebles.

TheSouthern understands the group has earmarked the Cross Keys Hotel – which closed earlier this year – for its latest premises.

The national food and drink firm already have Hunters Hall in Galashiels, while The Bourtree in Hawick is to set to open its doors for the first time on Tuesday, with the creation of 50 jobs.

But Peebles community council chairman David Pye believes licensed traders would be against the bar operator’s move into the Tweeddale town.

He told TheSouthern: “It would appeal to a certain type of client and if it brings back into use a building which is presently empty, it is a good thing for the town.

“There are one or two examples on the High Street of premises which have lain empty for a long time, such as Veitch’s, which closed three years ago, and the former bookmakers, which has been empty for five or six years.

“I think the offering of Wetherspoon would be very attractive to a number of people.

“The existing businesses would see it as a challenge to them.

“I am not sure hotels, pubs and restaurants would welcome this company, but it (Wetherspoon’s move into Peebles) is inevitable.”

But Jo Cassidy, owner of the Crown Hotel, was confident her premises would survive competition from a Wetherspoon bar.

She said: “I don’t think it would affect us too much. The hotel has been in our family for 45 years and we have seen pubs opening in the town before.

“It would be a bit of a worry, but we have a brilliant location on the High Street, trade is good in the town at the moment and we have regulars who will remain with us.”

Eddie Gershon, spokesman for Wetherspoon, said: “We are looking to open a pub in Peebles and we will be looking for a site in the town.

“However, we will not comment on individual sites at present.

“Wetherspoon has exactly 50 pubs in Scotland and the new premises in Hawick opens on April 19.

“With new premises in Hawick and Wick, this goes to show that Wetherspoon is not solely situated in big cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

“We feel it would be a good move for Wetherspoon and good for tourism in Peebles.”

Tweeddale councillor Graham Garvie told us: “I welcome the news that a major national company is starting up business in Peebles.

“I just hope that they are fully aware of, and sensitive to, our local traditions and customs, that the business will be family-friendly and that they will not provide just another off-the-shelf development which could be in ‘anytown’.”

JD Wetherspoon will open The Bourtree next week, having spent £1.1million transforming the former Conservative Club.

It is situated on Hawick’s Bourtree Place which is named after the elder trees which once stood there.

The pub will include a beer garden and photos and information boards explaining the history of the Teviotdale town, as well as local history artwork.