Plea made to hand over responsibility for boardwalk at Hawick loch

Councillor Davie Paterson at Williestruther Loch, Hawick.
Councillor Davie Paterson at Williestruther Loch, Hawick.

Hawick’s common good fund should reject a request to cover costs associated with the maintenance of Williestruther Loch to the south west of the town, according to one of its trustees.

The fund sub-committee is due to meet this week to consider a request from Hawick Community Council to take on responsibility for both maintenance and insurance costs associated with the scenic loch, a popular spot for anglers, walkers and photographers.

That move comes amid increasing concern that the beauty spot is becoming little more than a dog toilet due to irresponsible owners failing to clean up after their pets.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson has raised his concerns over the situation, saying it dates back to the creation of the boardwalk and car park there four years ago.

He warned at the time that that work would make the loch more accessible to the public and increase maintenance costs and said that the local angling club and community council, rather than Scottish Borders Council, should be responsible for its upkeep.

Now he is calling on the sub-committee to turn down this latest request from the town’s community council.

The long-serving councillor said: “We, as trustees of the common good fund, were given assurances by Hawick Community Council and Hawick Angling Club that any mess would be cleaned up after I had made the point regarding the problems created when you make areas more accessible to the public by allowing more cars to be parked there.

“I also laboured the point that with the placement of a doggy bin there the council just did not have the resources to regularly empty it. This was made abundantly clear to the community council and Hawick Angling Club representatives, and that was when they said they would collectively clean up any mess that was left.

“Never at any time during all the negotiating between council officers and the angling club and community council representatives was it said Hawick common good fund would be paying for the ongoing maintenance of the boardwalk.

“At the moment, if someone gets injured while using the boardwalk, who will be liable? In future, if it falls into disrepair, who is responsible for the ongoing maintenance costs? It was never mentioned that this burden would fall to the Hawick common good fund.”

In his request to the common good fund, Cameron Knox, formerly vice-chairman of the community council, writes: “As you know, in 2015 the community council secured funding to provide a boardwalk around a large part of Williestruther Loch and subsequently extended it in 2017.

“The provision of car parking, noticeboard and easy access to a circular walk around the loch is proving to be very successful and much used and appreciated.

“The community council, however, has not until recently contemplated the ongoing maintenance works and insurance to cover for this boardwalk.

“I write therefore to ask if the community council could gift the boardwalk to the common good fund, which would deal with future ongoing maintenance and insurance.”

The common good fund sub-committee meeets on Tuesday, May 28, at 4pm at the town hall.