The decision by councillors only a week ago to splash out £3.5million on a permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland at Tweedbank has already stoked up a fair bit of controversy – just cast your eyes to the letters’ section of this page for starters.
Opponents highlight cuts to local authority services – some affecting society’s most vulnerable – when they question the council’s spending priorities.
Those in favour of housing the tapestry in a visitor centre claim it will help maximise the economic benefits from the Borders Railway, which terminates at Tweedbank. Indeed, a business case – put together by consultants at a cost of £40,000, we should add – claims the attraction would draw in 47,000 paying customers annually.
However, the artwork has already been on a tour of Scotland and many of those who wanted to view it will have already done so, placing a heavy reliance on visitors from south of the border and abroad.
During this time of austerity, many Borderers are feeling the economic pinch – for some a big squeeze – and it will take a lot of convincing for them to believe that this is a good use of council taxpayers’ cash.
Perhaps a quotation from Marmion by Sir Walter Scott (former resident of nearby Abbotsford – a successful tourist attraction) may be appropriate for them: