The decision by Scottish Borders Council to pump £3.5million into a visitor centre at Tweedbank to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland continues to produce angry exchanges at Newtown.
The latest spat came at the April meeting when leader David Parker was quizzed by Councillor Gavin Logan, a member of the Conservative group which recently failed in a bid to overturn a spending commitment involving annual loan repayments of more than £200,000 for 30 years.
Mr Logan asked Mr Parker to comment on reports it was the council which had insisted the giant community artwork should be located in a new-build on a greenfield site next to the rail terminus at Tweedbank.
Mr Parker blasted: “That is a complete and utter fabrication – it was the trustees of the tapestry who believed that was the best option.”
Earlier, Mr Logan had asked why there had been no public consultation over the choice of site.
“There are occasions when consulting with the public is without doubt the right and proper thing to do,” replied Mr Parker.
“But in coming to a decision about the future home of the tapestry, it was consultation and agreement with the tapestry trustees that was the critical issue to be addressed.”
Mr Parker recalled that “over a year ago”, the council – aware there had been a number of bids from around Scotland to give the artwork, currently on display at a free exhibition in Ayr, a permanent home – spoke to trustees about the possibility of it being located in the Borders. He said that during a private session of the council in Hawick last May, the trustees had stressed that if their preferred location of Tweedbank was not taken forward, then the tapestry would not come to the Borders.
“They would simply accept one of the offers that they had available,” said Mr Parker.
“If I could sum up the trustees’ views, they simply feel the tapestry would be best placed at Tweedbank. It is also their strong view that a purpose-built centre is the best way forward to ensure the tapestry is properly displayed and managed for the future.
“The tapestry is owned and managed by its trustees and it is up to them to determine its future. It is not in the gift of this council.”
After the meeting, Mr Logan told The Southern: “Things seem pretty clear. It is the trustees who are calling the shots and the council which is picking up the tab.”
According to the website of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, which has 160 hand-stitched panels, trustees include local author and historian Alistair Moffat, best-selling novellist Alexander McCall-Smith, BBC radio journalist and broadcaster James Naughtie and the artist behind the project, Andrew Crummy.