Galashiels assets could be returned

With a cash balance at March last year of £25,000 and with no fixed assets, Galashiels had one of the smallest common good funds in the Borders.

But that could change after a painstaking review of around 170 “heritable properties”, from schools to car parks, currently held by Scottish Borders Council.

And later this month, the council will be asked to approve the transfer of assets with a book value of £325,000 to the Galashiels Common Good Fund.

These include Bank Street Gardens – gifted to the town council after the Second World War – Old Gala House and Ladhope Golf Course.

Historic landmarks with no book value are also due to be transferred, including the Mercat Cross, the Sir Walter Scott statue and the Old Town Cemetery in Church Street.

The striking of these assets from SBC’s general fund has already been approved by the Galashiels Common Good Fund sub-committee, comprising the town’s four elected members on SBC.

A report to the sub-committee explained how, in response to “significant and continuing pressure from residents and others”, SBC appointed a solicitor in 2010 to review the titles of all properties it held in the region’s eight former burghs.

This was an onerous task in respect of Galashiels because its fund had no fixed assets recorded – unlike the funds of Hawick and Selkirk, for example, with known tangible assets worth £2.5million and £2.1million respectively and resultant large cash balances.

The report states: “All income from and expenditure relating to these assets, will now rest with the Galashiels Common Good Fund and not with the general fund of the council.”

The government has been taking evidence recently on its Community Empowerment Bill which is expected to make provision for more community control over the administration of common good funds across Scotland.