Hawick Moor cash plea falls on deaf ears

A plan to landscape and build an events centre at Hawick’s St Leonard’s Park racecourse has stalled after a bid for a £500 grant from the town community council’s Foundation Scotland kitty failed.

Brian Bouglas, project manager of the Town of the Horse scheme.
Brian Bouglas, project manager of the Town of the Horse scheme.

Brian Bouglas brought the issue up at last week’s meeting of the community council at the town hall, hoping to gain support for the extra cash, which he says is urgently required.

Vice-chairperson Marion Short said: “I don’t see that happening right away.

“The deadline for new bids is March 31 and the money available to each applicant will depend on how many successful applicants there are.”

Duncan Taylor suggested using money the community council has from the previous two tranches of payments, but he was told it was all ring-fenced.

And Margaret Hogg said: “I’m uneasy about this as it is a community councillor asking for money.

“I would not be supporting this as it has to go through the correct process.”

A clearly frustrated Mr Bouglas said after the meeting: “The Town of the Horse project was started up through Future Hawick, and it’s to do with the redevelopment of the Hawick Moor.

“What we are proposing is to have facilities that would be multi-use – for equestrian use, music festivals, agricultural shows, food festivals or game fairs.

“It’s a racecourse with undulating ground, and five people broke their ankle on common riding Friday.

“We are talking about landscaping the whole thing and making it a proper area suitable for people camping or caravanning or just enjoying their day.

“We got grant funding from the common good fund and the council to hold a feasibility study, which came back very positive.

“From there, we were advised to get 3D drawings done to take to a public consultation so that the people of Hawick can make their minds up if they wanted it or not, so we have sought this through Aitken and Turnbull, and we are seeking another £500 so we can complete literature to go along with the business plan.

“It has to be done professionally – we can’t go in with it written on the back of a fag packet – but we’ve been knocked back for this.”

Mr Bouglas said there is a finite time in which the plan can happen if it is to get off the ground so action is needed soon.

He said: “The farmer tenant there at the moment’s lease is due up again in 2024.

“We just need to get the public consultation under way to give people time to consider it.

“It’s 52 acres of community ground which belongs to the people of Hawick.

“If it’s a success, it will bring visitors into the town.

“Some people are for it and some aren’t.

“I want to bridge that gap and try to ensure people know it’s for the betterment of Hawick.”

Mr Bouglas said he believes so strongly in the project that he would look at funding the £500 himself if he wi forced to.

He said: “The lack of support at that meeting has only made me more determined.”