SCOTTISH Borders Council (SBC) has been accused of “neglecting” its responsibility to make Galashiels an attractive place.

In recent weeks, community leaders have been working to add a “splash of colour” to the town.

This includes the addition of a number of planters on the streets, with the community council aiming to raise £8,000 to help fund the project.

However, at a meeting of Galashiels Community Council this month, one member of the public questioned why the work was not carried out by SBC.

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“We’re the heart of the Scottish Borders and we’re relying on community donations to make our town look nice, it seems a little bit off,” said Richard Lees.

“You’re talking about £8,000 to make the town immeasurably more attractive,” he said. “It makes total sense to do that. Basically they’re (the council) delegating their responsibility to you and your charity work.

“The council’s obligation is to make this a more attractive place for business and they’re neglecting that fact.”

Chairing the meeting, Judith Cleghorn said: “We’re asking for donations to make the town look better. The council will do the basics but the basics are not as good as they used to be due to lack of staff and lack of money.

“We have got the tapestry coming and we’ve got to do everything we can to enhance the town.”

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She added: “There’s one thing that we’re inclined to forget, we volunteers want to do this. I want to do it for me, I want to do it for you, I want to do it for everybody.

“It pleases me to see flowers, it pleases you, I hope, to see flowers, but we can’t expect the council to provide the frills that we want to put onto this town.”

Community council secretary Tracey Alder added: “Eight thousand pounds is just where we started. What we’ve done over the past month or so has actually cost if not more than double that.

“It’s not just Galashiels that the council can’t afford to put the flowers into, it’s every town in the Borders. All the towns are in the same boat.”

Responding, Mr Lees said: “I totally admire that people are volunteering and I totally advocate that. The point was that £8,000 is a return on investment. If the council invested £8,000 in the town then maybe people will visit the tapestry and go to the town and they’ll see the money come back.”

Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison was present at the virtual meeting.

He told community councillors and members of the public that the council’s budget is “wrangled over every year”, adding that there is “blood on the walls” by the time it is sorted.

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“If we extrapolate £10,000 for Gala across the Borders, we’re then talking something in the region of £800,000 when you take into consideration all the communities, which deserve equal treatment,” said Mr Aitchison.

“Year on year our grant funding has decreased from the Scottish Government since I became a councillor.”

He added: “If we spent a million quid prettifying the towns, does that mean we have to reduce services elsewhere? Yes it definitely does.

“If you live in a community it’s perfectly sensible that you take ownership of that community and put something back into that community.”

John Gray, who volunteers in the town, told the meeting that Mr Lees’ point was relevant.

“The big crunch comes when we can’t afford it,” he said. “We’re getting the money in [for Bank Street Gardens] through numerous donors. If that funding stops we can have all the volunteers we want but at the end of the day there’s no resources to do the job.”