A BORDERS councillor last week criticised a question from another elected member as “dangerous” and “damaging”.

Mid Berwickshire representative Mark Rowley, of the Conservatives, made the comments during the open questions section of a full meeting of Scottish Borders Council (SBC) on Thursday (May 27).

Mr Rowley was responding to Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage’s question asking about the extension of the Borders Railway line to Hawick.

Opened in 2015, the Borders Railway line currently runs from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

Last week, SNP member Ms Ramage asked: “With the return of the Borders Rail to Galashiels, we now need to be proactive with the second phase.

“Hawick, being the town furthest south in the Scottish Borders, is suffering because of the lack of infrastructure.

“We need to be setting out an economic and business case for the extension of this railway now.

“Why are SBC not allocating resources to support the extension comparable to the resources committed to support the first phase of the Borders Railway to Tweedbank?”

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Mr Rowley took issue with the question, describing it as “trumped up nonsense”.

“Normally I would thank a councillor for asking a pertinent question but I’m not going to thank councillor Ramage for this,” said Mr Rowley, SBC's executive member for finance. “It’s a disappointing question because it questions this council’s commitment to a project that the council put on the table front and centre as part of the Borderlands Growth Deal.”

He continued: “I’m afraid councillor Ramage is again talking down the great town of Hawick with this question.

“The question is misleading, it’s damaging to the great Borders town of Hawick and is based on a mistruth as the answer to the question is in the public domain and will have been circulated in council papers that all people today will have seen.

“She has ripped out a page from the Hawick councillor playbook – create a stooshie, talk your town down, make an issue and hope to get on the front page of the local newspaper.”

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There have been repeated calls to extend the Borders Railway to the north of England through Hawick and Newcastleton.

In March, Mr Rowley signed the Borderlands Growth Deal on behalf of SBC which committed funding towards a feasibility study into extending the railway line down to Carlisle.

Referring to Ms Ramage's question, Mr Rowley said: “This is dangerous stuff. Putting out any message that this council is not 100 per cent committed to pursuing an extension right through to Carlisle can only damage Hawick.

“If people believe that they will be less likely to invest, to choose a home there and have less confidence in the region as a whole.

“No-one is more committed to the Borders Railway than me.”

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Responding to Mr Rowley, Ms Ramage said his answer was “very disappointing” and strayed away from her question.

“I understand we have the Borderlands deal, we have the additional funding for the feasibility study, £5 million from Westminster and £5 million from the Scottish Government,” she said.

“SBC needs to be actively preparing and organising to move forward on this and as councillors we need to be informed and what we need to see is actual physical support.”

Ms Ramage added: “I’m certainly not talking Hawick down, in fact it’s the complete opposite.

“We do need to see this railway coming from Galashiels through Hawick and onto Carlisle, that’s the whole point of this question.”

Ms Ramage called for a dedicated progress officer to move “this project forward”.