HAWICK’S Border Reivers Festival has been given £3,000 from the town’s common good fund to ensure the festival keeps coming back every year.

The festival, which takes place in March, has grown considerably over the past few years and brings hundreds of visitors to Hawick.

Appearing at a meeting of the Hawick common good fund committee, Catherine Elliott-Walker, chairwoman of the Hawick Reivers Association, told councillors: “I know that we have come each year to the common good fund, for funding, but as you’ll appreciate a lot of the events we put on are free.

“The money has assisted us to maintain the fact that a lot of our events are free.

“Last year we had a successful year, and we also received funding through Event Scotland’s scottish clan event fund that allowed us to market the event and focus on families.

“So we’re hoping to build on that success, and we have actually applied to the clan fund again.

“The funding we get from elsewhere is very much about new developments and targeted at specific things. We have to ask the common good fund for funding just to help us maintain the day-to-day aspects of the organisation.”

Councillor Watson McAteer (Ind, Hawick & Hermitage) greeted the application warmly: “I always apply the test of 'is this for the benefit of the town?' And this definitely is.

“Last year they built on previous years to put on an exceptional event. It was a stylish event and lots of visitors came.

“This a volunteer group running an event which has such a high professional standard. You deserve everything you get for running an event of this quality.

“They’re not asking for a lot of money and I wholly support this.”

Councillor Stuart Marshall (Ind, Hawick & Denholm) echoed Cllr McAteer’s sentiments: “I wholeheartedly support this application. When Catherine comes along here, you know she’s looked under every stone for money.

“The Reivers Festival is great. Imagine Hawick without it now, it’s unthinkable, so let’s get behind it and support it.”

However, Councillor David Paterson (Ind, Hawick & Hermitage) raised concerns over the finances of the festival, which between 2014 and 2018 has received £19,862 of public money from various sources.

He said: “I’ve got to ask, and I can’t help but wondering, is enough enough?

“I realise it’s a great success in the the town, and you’re making money, but how many years has it been since they’ve had funding? Ten years? Twelve years?

Ms Elliot-Walker replied: “We’ve had funding just about every year, although there has been three years where we’ve had enough to not need to apply because we’ve had funding from other sources.

“I totally understand what you’re saying, but if I turn that back, that if we didn’t have common good funding, we’d have to start charging for a lot of things, and that would have quite a detrimental effect on a lot of our families, who at the moment can come along and enjoy the event.

“We have tickets to the events which raise a certain amount of money. The festival is not making money as such. I think the last two years we’ve maybe made a thousand pounds over the weekend, which has helped us build up our resources a little, so that we can actually hold another festival.

“We’ve been very lucky we’ve had good weather the last couple of years. If we have a bad year it would probably wipe out any surplus we have.”

Councillor Paterson then accused his fellow councillors of being too generous with public money: “I understand that, but you’ve come to us for funding every year. Is there nothing else you can do? You can’t keep coming here every year and getting funding.

“I understand some people are trying to get votes, but it’s public money were dealing with here, public money. Sorry but it’s got to be said.”

Councillors eventually voted to grant the festival £3,000, with Cllr McAteer adding: “I’m not being accused of buying votes. The common good fund is public money, but it’s Hawick public money. It’s for Hawick projects and run by Hawick people for the benefit of Hawick. That is the clue in the name of the Hawick common good fund. So I take exception to that remark and support this application in its entirety.”