The operator set to run the new cafe in Hawick’s Wilton Lodge Park has finally been revealed.
Frustration had been expressed at delays in appointing a company to run the venue, at the heart of the £3.4m National Lottery-backed regeneration of the park.
Now, Scottish Borders Council has announced that Bradford-based Caterleisure has won the bid to operate it.
That announcement was today welcomed by Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer, who has expressed his growing frustration at the facility not being made available sooner to townsfolk and visitors alike.
But the news was also tempered with a measure of surprise that it was a company from West Yorkshire and not a more locally-based firm which had emerged successful.
A council spokesman said: “After a detailed and competitive tender process, Scottish Borders Council is pleased to announce Caterleisure as the operator of the new Wilton Lodge Park cafe.
“Caterleisure is an experienced business which will offer a quality service for the users of the park.
“Caterleisure is now preparing to fit out the new cafe, with the opening date currently being negotiated and announced shortly.
“We thank the people of Hawick for their patience and hope they are looking forward to another fantastic new facility as part of the Wilton Lodge Park regeneration project.”
Mr McAteer said he was surprised the contract had not been awarded to a local company but accepted the fact that an operator was now in place represented progress.
He said: “I am waiting to be advised of the reasons that resulted in the Bradford-based Caterleisure winning the Wilton Lodge Park cafe contract.
“However, their appointment represents progress, and I will be encouraging this experienced company to pull out all the stops and be up and running as soon as possible.
“I am surprised the contract has not been not been awarded locally. However, I fully expect Caterleisure to recruit local staff to run what is a fantastic new facility.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall also welcomed the announcement, while calling for more information about the selection process to be made public.
He said: “I am glad that at long last someone has been appointed to run the cafe, and whilst I wish the company well with their new venture, it would, however, be good to hear how many applicants there actually were and how many local businesses submitted an interest.
“I will, of course, be asking for this information to be circulated.
“Either way, I think that townsfolk will welcome the fact that this facility will be opening soon.”
The Caterleisure group is privately owned and has operated throughout the UK since 1976. It has increased its profile in recent years with franchise agreements with the likes of Costa and WH Smith.
The park regeneration scheme has already seen the opening of the Zandra Elliot Bandstand, a walled garden, playpark and bridge, as well as improvements to Hawick Museum.