Common good funds go up in value by £4M

The value of the eight common good funds in the Borders rose by 35% last year, it has emerged.

A major revaluation of fixed assets is cited for the surge which is revealed in Scottish Borders Council’s unaudited accounts for the year ending March 31.

Between them, the common good accounts of the former burghs of Duns, Galashiels, Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso, Lauder, Peebles and Selkirk are now worth £13.392million. This compares to the £9.742million recorded at the end of 2013/14.

The revaluations added £3.497million to the funds, with tangible assets – land and buildings at net book value – soaring from £7.092million to £10.622million.

The main beneficiaries of the revaluation were Hawick (up from £2.532million to £3.675million) and Selkirk (£2.104million to £3.312million, while there were also significant increases for Lauder (£691,000 to £1.028million) and Peebles (£678,000 to £914,000).

Galashiels, historically the burgh with the smallest common good fund, has seen its worth go up from £31,000 (in revenue and capital reserves) to £344,000, thanks to a number of heritable properties being transferred from the ownership of the council at the beginning of this year.

Following a major review, the lands around Ladhope, which include the golf course and form part of a 1945 bequest, are now part of the town’s common good, along with Old Gala House, a museum, gallery and meeting place which was gifted by Galashiels Art Club in 1975 “for the benefit of the public of Galashiels”. Other assets which are ascribed no book value are also now back in the common good fold, including Bank Street Gardens, The Mercat Cross and the Old Town Cemetery in Church Street.

But, with so little liquidity, no grants to local worthy causes were made by the Galashiels fund in 2014/15. Indeed, across the eight funds, the value of these “charitable activities” fell by 44% from £154,000 to just £85,000 over the year.

The largest disbursers were Jedburgh (£34,000), Peebles (£21,000), Selkirk (£16,000) and Hawick (£12,000). Duns, like Galashiels, made no donations last year.

The cost of SBC administering the funds, including payment to the external auditor, was £50,000 last year, down from £56,000 in 2013/14.