Hobkirk is a village on the verge of a crisis, resident claims

A beleaguered Borders village is on the verge of crisis, a concerned community spokesman has admitted.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 1:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 1:23 pm
Cliff Griffiths at Hobkirk Primary School.

The closure of Hobkirk Primary School is expected to be rubber-stamped soon.

It comes on top of a number of recent blows to the village, which has a population of about 250.

Problems began five years ago when the post office closed.

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Residents also recently lost the traditional right for free burials in the village cemetery after charges were introduced by Scottish Borders Council.

Transport is another problematic issue, with no regular bus service.

Additionally, plans for Hobkirk to receive a larger slice of a £3.5m community benefits fund, set up after the go-ahead was given to the 12-turbine Pines Burn windfarm, have now been challenged by members of Hawick Community Council (see page 10).

Despite the setbacks, Hobkirk remains a popular and attractive place to live.

But Hobkirk Community Council spokesman Cliff Griffiths, 67, who has lived in the village for 12 years, admits the community is facing testing times.

He said: “If you think about it, the post office has gone, the pub has had difficulties and has been closed for sometime and the school has gone.

“It does make you wonder what would attract people to live in the village, although houses seem to sell okay because it’s a really good location, only five miles from Hawick and Jedburgh.

“It’s a village which feels it’s under crisis. There is definitely a sense of a beleaguered village. The only thing that we have got at the moment which is thriving is the village hall, which is providing activities for people in the village.”

The village school has been mothballed since 2015 and closure is expected to be confirmed within weeks.

Mr Griffiths added: “There’s an acceptance that the school will close, people have accepted the inevitability of it as the council doesn’t really have an alternative.

“Now parents have got freedom to take children to a wide range of schools, they don’t have to use the local one and some parents who were working in Hawick and Jedburgh found it more convenient to take the kids in with them, rather than race back early to pick them up. The number of children in the catchment area had also declined with the result there was only one teacher and she was teaching a class of mixed ages, so I think parents became dissatisfied and moved the children to the school in Denholm.

“That had a snowball effect and meant the numbers declined further.”