Selkirk Community Council will re-invite council leader David Parker to answer their questions about housing the Great Tapestry of Scotland in Tweedbank, after he refused to attend Monday’s grilling.
Last week, Selkirk’s community councillors invited Mr Parker to defend Scottish Borders Council’s (SBC’s) decision, at a time of financial austerity, to spend £3.5million on a new visitor centre in Tweedbank to exhibit the tapestry.
In December, Scottish Borders councillors voted 21-10 in favour of the proposal, after the firm Jura Consultants reported it would bring money to the local economy.
In an open letter on behalf of Selkirk community councillors, secretary Alistair Pattullo called for this “precipitate and flawed” decision to be set aside. “Jura consultants were not allowed to consider any location other than Tweedbank,” he wrote, and doubted Jura’s predicted 40,000 footfall would ever be achieved.
Mr Parker replied there was “no useful purpose in attending your meeting,” because “you have a fixed view and have chosen to disregard a number of key facts and evidence which would contradict that view. I can see little point in restating the correct position if you are not prepared to at least offer an open and balanced consideration.”
He continued: “The Great Tapestry of Scotland is owned and managed by the tapestry trustees. It is up to the trustees to determine its future and Scottish Borders Council, at all times, has been guided by the trustees’ requirements.”
However, at Monday’s meeting, community councillor Alisdaire Lockhart questioned Mr Parker’s assertion that it is the trustees, not SBC, driving the Tweedbank plan.
He quoted an email sent to him by trustee Alistair Moffat in June 2014, after SBC’s decision on May 29 to investigate the single site option of Tweedbank, despite the opposition proposing Jura investigate more Border locations.
Mr Lockhart, a director of the Scottish Centre of Textiles project now hallmarked for Galashiels, was writing to tapestry trustees to discuss a possible collaboration. But Mr Moffat replied: “we are committed meantime to the Scottish Borders Council proposal.”
Mr Lockhart concluded: “This suggests to me it’s not the trustees to blame, but the other way round.” He said he had five questions, and the council agreed to ask them.