Calls go out for equality when it comes to promoting the Borders’ largest events

Demands of equality are being made by councillors convinced Hawick is being short-changed when it comes to event funding and promotion.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 3:13 pm
Councillor Watson McAteer welcomes visitors to the town at last year's Reivers Festival.

Town councillors say they are aghast at a decision by Scottish Borders Council not to consider giving Hawick Reivers’ Festival accredited event status.

That ruling means the three-day festival each March will not receive the finanical and promotional backing enjoyed by the likes of the Borders Book Festival and Melrose Sevens.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer says he is seeking clarity on authority convener David Parker’s decision to dismiss the plea and is calling into question the council’s own stance on equality.

“It’s unusual for something to be ruled inadmissible,” he told Hawick Community Council on Monday. “The council didn’t get the opportunity to discuss it or decide there wan’t any money in the budget.

“Mr Parker just made that decision that there’s isn’t any money so it’s incompetent.

“I’m trying to get clarity, to understand if there’s been a mistake made in the way it’s been submitted or not. If it’s not a mistake and it’s been dismissed out of hand, then it is a total disgrace, simple as that.

“We are competing at the same level as Melrose and any other town when it comes to pushing events that bring visitors to the town. We deserve to be treated the exact same way.

“This council runs an equality statement. Don’t we know about equality the way they have challenged us?

“It should be delivered as far as festivals and events are concerned.”

Being included as a registered event with would increase public awareness of the reivers’ festival, budgeted at around £117,000 each year, its organisers argue.

Fellow Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull added that he, like his ward counterparts, is aghast at the decision at last week’s full council meeting and has vowed to take up the issue with the administration.

He said: “I was very disatisfied with the outcome and the arbitary way it was dealt with. We will be pursuing it further, I can assure you.

“We were aghast at the outcome. It was a recommendation we were making that it be added to the festivals list.

“I have a meeting this week to tease out exactly what Watson was saying.”

Community council chairman Cameron Knox agreed, saying: “I was totally shocked that Mr Parker ruled the application out without giving the councillors the chance to even discuss it.

“I just wonder if this project was in his ward would the outcome have been the same? I don’t think so.”

Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall added: “I am pretty disappointed with the outcome last week.

“It should be classed as a dedicated festival for the town with all the visitors it brings in.

“The committee works hard and it’s all volunteers.”