Hawick provost urged to speak out over negative publicity in national newspaper

Suggestions that Hawick is “hillbilly territory” have been denied this week amid calls for townsfolk to speak out against negative publicity in a national newspaper.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson is calling for a public statement to be made responding to national media coverage of the town’s common riding affairs last week.

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In an open letter to the town’s honorary provost Watson McAteer, Mr Paterson writes: “As the town’s honorary provost, do you not think that you should be making some sort of public statement with regards to this latest allegation to hit the press?

“As a provost council member, I want you to make a public statement to the media that you and the provost council would like to distance yourselves from the alleged bigoted and disgraceful behaviour being demonstrated by some people opposed to ladies taking part in all our common riding events.

“Hawick does not need or want this adverse publicity so, as our honorary provost, I think this statement has to go out as quickly as possible.

“I certainly don’t want to be called a bigot.”

Mr Paterson was responding to comments by Times newspaper columnist Melanie Reid asking: “What are we going to do with Hawick?

“Even attempting to describe the place embarrasses me.

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“This is hillbilly territory, where the light of the modern world has not penetrated.

“It may be 2019, but the women of Hawick are being harassed, publicly derided and excluded from parts of the town’s official summer festival.”

Mr McAteer spoke out publicly at last week’s Hawick Common Riding committee meeting in support of its decision to become a charitable body ready to abide by national legislation.

He said there would be a lot of changes, all of which would be “in the right direction”.

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