A SCOTTISH Borders Council (SBC) officer says there is only one "viable option" for the location of the new Galashiels Academy – despite five being included in the public consultation.

For months, concerns have been raised over building the £55 million community campus on green space in Scott Park.

On Wednesday evening, John Curry, SBC's service director for assets and infrastructure, took part in a Zoom meeting of Galashiels Community Council.

Local engineer Stuart Gordon asked Mr Curry: "Of the five options from the agenda report from December 17, how many of the other options are viable options?"

Mr Curry replied: "Officers remain of the view that site option three is the only viable option in terms of delivering the most appropriate solution that will deliver the greatest benefit to the overall community campus."

The remark was made on the same day that the local authority revealed a five-option public consultation will take place later this month.

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Community councillor Gordon Richardson said there was "no point" in hosting it.

He said: "I must admit to being taken aback by the options, by the fact that only one option is going to be viable.

"There is no point in having a consultation if they have already decided what the outcome is going to be.

"What is the point of having a consultation about one option?" 

Mr Curry replied: "It is for members of the public to see what the thinking is behind what has been done to date and also to contribute to how to shape the community campus.

"They can have a say on what goes into it, how it benefits the community and how it delivers an amenity we can all use for 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

"There is value in doing it. It is an asset to the community." 

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The local authority's convener, David Parker, was also present at the Zoom meeting.

He said: "The point in the consultation is to allow people to engage and shape what may be in the new building.

"I think John Curry is right that officers have a preferred option and, having analysed the other options, they don't think there is another one that can go forward.

"But of course during the consultation it will be important to listen to everyone's views, to look at all the different considerations, and to look carefully at the responses.

"So although officers are strongly of the view there is only one option, members may decide to do something different if there was a case for it, but it would have to satisfy a range of issues."