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'This is a really crucial time for Hawick High Street'

High Streets all over our region have suffered in the past couple of years the sight of closed shops and empty premises is all too familiar.

Today the spotlight was on the town of Hawick, with a visit from a Scottish government minister, who came to see the extent of the problem for himself. Lori Carnochan reports.

'People have to support their local businesses'

Derek MacKay spent the morning walking around the town with local traders and Borders MSP Paul Wheelhouse. Credit: ITV Border

Derek MacKay, the Scottish Planning Minister, has been walking around Hawick with Borders MSP Paul Wheelhouse to discuss the state of the town's High Street.

Many shops on the High Street are empty and some businesses are struggling. Like many other towns across the south of Scotland and Cumbria, small independent shops are having to compete with large supermarkets.

Local MSP Paul Wheelhouse has praised the positive community spirit, but says that everyone has a duty to support the high street stores.

"A really important message is that people do have to support their local businesses. It's always difficult competing against big supermarkets due to convenience and the likes of easy and free parking. But we no have a duty to work with the local businesses and the Scottish Government to do something about this problem here in Hawick."

– Paul Wheelhouse, MSP for South of Scotland, SNP


Planning Minister discusses Hawick High Street

The Scottish planning minister has been in Hawick today to discuss problems facing the town's High Street

Derek MacKay met with local MSP Paul Wheelhouse and traders to discuss the best way of improving what the town has to offer. Some locals say the situation is at crisis point, with so many High Street businesses closing.

Planning Minister visits Hawick

The Scottish Planning Minister has been in Hawick to discuss the state of the town's High Street. Credit: ITV Border

The Scottish Planning Minister has been in Hawick to discuss the state of the town's High Street. Derek MacKay spent the morning walking around the town with local traders and Borders MSP Paul Wheelhouse.

Many shops on the High Street are currently empty and some businesses are at breaking point. There's also an immediate threat of some of the town's larger chain retailers also shutting up shop.

"So the solutions involved- community ownership, community leadership and regeneration. I think it also involves rate support to incentivise people to open up and stay in our town centres, and schemes that can improve the local environment aswell. So it's a mixture of government and community action, working very closely with the private sector who own, of course, most of the properties on the high street."

– Derek MacKay, Local Government and Planning Minister for Scotland

Local traders are worried about the amount of vacant properties on the high street, and think that the rates could be contributing to the problem.

"I agree with the small business rates relief but I think that everybody should contribute to that. Not just the shops that have large frontages or are on the main street, but every shop should contribute, including charity shops."

– Jim Hay, Local businessman

Discovering the WW1 history of Stobs camp

The Borders played an important role in the First World War. In 1914, one of the stops on the Waverley Railway line was at the tiny hamlet of Acreknow, near Hawick, the site of a military camp.

In the recent edition of Border Life, Emma Baker takes a trip back in time to discover the history of the site. And here's just part of her report, where she meets expert Gordon Gilfeather.

Stobs Camp was an army training base which became a prisoner of war camp during the 1st World War.

Emma Baker discovers that at one time 6,000 people lived there, producing a German language newspaper and making products for the local community. Plus Fiona Armstrong looks at a new plan to conserve fuel bills for the elderly.

Watch the full report on Border Life.

WHSmith to shut on Hawick high street

Hawick High Street has suffered another major blow with the revelation that stationer WHSmith will close its store at the end of the year.

A spokesperson confirmed that it is due to shut its doors at the end of December. However the statement added that if alternative premises in the town became available they would look into it.

Scottish Borders councillor Watson McAteer, who has been spearheading the High Street regeneration plans in Hawick, said:

“The news that WHSmith plan to close the doors of their High Street shop at the end of December is very bad news for Hawick. This has just made our regeneration ambitions much more difficult."

– Cllr Watson McAteer


Vandals target Borders town

Nine vehicles were vandalised on the same Hawick street causing two thousand pounds of damage.

The attacks were carried out on Ivanhoe terrace between Thursday and Saturday.

Police Scotland have launched an investigation and are have appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

All the vehicles were badly scratched.

"This was a mindless act of destruction that resulted in high-value damage to a number of vehicles. "We would urge anyone who remembers seeing any suspicious activity in Ivanhoe Terrace between Thursday and Saturday to contact police immediately.

– Inspector Carol Wood, Police Scotland

New exhibitions at Hawick Museum

Two new exhibitions by local artists are on display at Hawick Museum.

Hills, Lochs and Ruins Credit: Kenneth Allen

Hills, Lochs and Ruins is an exhibition of watercolour paintings by Hawick-based artist, Kenneth Allen, who was born in Peebles.

His work is influenced by the Scottish Borders, and depicts well-known ancient ruins from the landscape.

Kenneth’s exhibition can be found in the Entrance Hall.

Caught in Clay Credit: Clair Norris

Caught in Clay by Clair Norris from Yetholm features two and three dimensional ceramic pieces, including tiles, bowls, vessels and mosaics.

A major influence on Clair’s work has been the landscape of the Scottish Borders, reflecting the variety of moods, light, line and patterns.

She has led summer workshops to produce work on local themes which will also be displayed in her exhibition, that's being held in the Waterfall Gallery.

Medication stolen from property in Hawick

Police in the Scottish Borders have issued a warning after a quantity of strong medication was stolen from a property in Hawick.

A house in Trinity Street was broken into at about 9pm on Saturday, 16 August.

Several items were stolen, including a number of packets of Methylphenidate medication.

Anyone who comes across the pills is asked to hand them in to the nearest police station.

"These tablets are only meant for consumption by the individual they are prescribed to and can have significant health implications if taken by anyone else.

"We would ask anyone who finds the medication to hand it over to police as soon as possible."

– Police Inspector Carol Wood, Police Scotland

30th Hawick Summer Festival starts

A programme of guided walks, live music and parties gets underway in Hawick today for the Hawick Summer Festival.

Organisers say there is "something for everyone" over the next nine days at the 30th consecutive festival in the town.

Among the events taking place is the crowning of a Flower Princess, a hike to Fatlips Castle and a gig with local bands Scocha and The Joe Mangels Band.

"Each year we continue to strive to keep the programme fresh and entertaining for everyone. There are a host of new activities on offer including special events in Wilton Lodge Park, a Ladies Pamper night and a Comedy Evening."

– Gerry Monaghan, Chairman

Our reporter Jenny Longden is in the Borders to find out what's happening..

The week long event starts tonight, Friday 15 August, at 7pm.

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