It’s two years since Scottish Borders Council announced proposals for a £8.5m facility on land south-east of Guthrie Drive at Stirches, a move which would lead to the eventual closure of the town’s Deanfield care home.
But delays in the preparation of a business case for the development has led some to question the local authority’s commitment to the project.
At a recent briefing Hawick councillors were also told that private providers could be incorporated into the project – raising concerns that the 60 beds originally pledged would not materialise.
At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council last week Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer put an open question on the matter to Councillor Tom Weatherston, the council executive member for adult wellbeing.
Councillor McAteer said: “The suggestion at the briefing was that we might not need a 60-bed facility because private care would take care of some of that. That is totally unacceptable.
“We were promised two years ago a care village in Hawick when we were told that Deanfield was no longer fit for purpose.
“They say they are going ahead but there are a lot of buts. They say they need to get a consultation done and need an extended period of time for an outline business case to be completed.
“It feels as if the council is pulling back on the promise of a 60-bed care village that they made two years ago.
“I’ve also been told that Deanfield is being reviewed, so from the point two years ago when it was not fit for purpose, it now looks like somebody is trying to breathe life into it. There are many unanswered questions.”
In his response, Mr Weatherston reasserted the council’s commitment to the project, without confirming the number of beds planned there remained at 60.
He said: “I’d ask the people of Hawick to listen to this first line – I can confirm that Scottish Borders Council remains fully committed to the Hawick care village development.
“As part of the process of developing an outline business case, Scottish Borders Council wants to maximise potential benefits for the people of Hawick and to engage fully with communities, staff and the social care sector in order to do this well.
“When this was discussed at council in November, the Covid wave over January and February was not anticipated. This Covid wave significantly impacted on social care services, those who use services, staff and the wider sector.
“As a result, unfortunately, the timetable had to be delayed until the summer. This engagement is crucially important to help us to get this right for the people of Hawick and to ensure the impact of the public spend is maximised.”