Everyone should get behind and support the choice of Tweedbank as the site of a permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
That was the plea from Alistair Moffat, co-chairman of the tapestry trustees, responding this week after criticism of Tweedbank’s favoured status ahead of the conclusion of a £40,000 feasibility study next month.
His comments came after First Minister Alex Salmond, on a recent visit to the Borders, announced that a visitor centre housing the 143m-long tapestry telling the history of Scotland would be constructed at Tweedbank, adjacent to the new rail station.
But the announcement drew criticism in Hawick.
Derek Tait, president of Hawick Callants Club, said the announcement was surprising, given that SBC had commissioned a report on location suitability which is not due until October, adding: “Commissioning this report now appears to have been a waste of the public purse. It’s a decision which has been made in haste.”
Author and broadcaster Mr Moffat, who created the narrative for the tapestry, told The Southern that, from the trustees point of view, the site at Tweedbank was ideal because it sits at what will be the terminus station of the new Waverley Line and is therefore accessible by all transport links, both road and rail.
He said: “Discussions about Tweedbank have been going on for almost a year. It has always been open to any organisation, from Hawick or anywhere else, to approach the trustees, but none did.
“But more important, the proposals to create a tourist gateway to the Borders at Tweedbank Station, with the tapestry in the foreground, should be welcomed by everyone in the Borders.”
SBC leader David Parker says no final decision has yet been made on the tapestry’s final home and that Mr Salmond’s announcement last month only confirmed government support for the project at Tweedbank, if that was the location eventually chosen.
The Great Tapestry of Scotland is owned and managed by its trustees and it has already been made clear that they are the people who will determine its future.
It was more than a year ago that a number of venues around Scotland were suggested as locations for a permanent home. But any site must meet the trustees’ requirements, including that the tapestry had to be located close to a major public transport link and that the chosen site should maximise visitor numbers.
When SBC met with the trustees to discuss possible Borders locations, the trustees were convinced the only suitable Borders location they would consider would be in the central area of Galashiels/Melrose.