The last vestiges of male domination at Hawick Common-Riding may be consigned to the history books this year.

In a move which saw the town thrust into the national news headlines once again, Common-Riding chiefs were forced to issue a statement following a post on social media site Facebook, which appeared to suggest women were gearing up to take part in the last few male only events.

And this week, the man who was at the forefront of peace talks during the 1996 ‘Lady Riders’ row which tore the town apart, appealed for calm saying the “eyes of Scotland were firmly on Hawick at the moment”.

Speaking from his Orkney home this week, former Hawick Councillor and Honorary Provost John Ross Scott said: “I was saddened to hear that the town was the centre of national media attention once again. It’s a time for cool heads and clear thinking.

“It would be terrible to see the town dragged down because of this and to be honest, especially at a time when there is a lot of positivity and good things going on in Hawick.”

The incendiary Facebook post which appeared on a page called Rum and Milk, named after the traditional Common-Riding tipple, asked: “Who is looking forward to Common-Riding 2018? Here are even more reasons to look forward to it, especially all lady riders.”

The post recapped Sheriff James Paterson’s 1996 ruling which gave women “their equal rights to do as men do and to receive all things me receive” and went on to remind readers that as a Scottish charity and a body in receipt of a grant from Scottish Borders Council it (Hawick Common-Riding Committee) must abide by equality, gender and discrimination laws and that any events must benefit ‘all’ members of the community.

It further stated: “This year Hawick-Common Riding Committee have acknowledged these points and have said they will not stop any ladies from riding at any of the mounted events. This includes all preliminary ride outs, Chases, Friday’s main Common Riding day as is everyone’s right should they wish to take part.”

The post added that the committee had agreed to amend its constitution “to clarify procedures and practices concerning allegations regarding discrimination to anyone taking part in Common Riding activities and will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour directly impacting the Common Riding.”

Mr Scott, who is a former Liberal Democrat leader of Scottish Borders Council added: “The eyes of Scotland really are on Hawick at the moment. Clear leadership on both sides is needed and a speedy resolution needs to be found.”

The statement released by Hawick Common-Riding committee, asked for the town’s traditions, customs and heritage to be respected, said: “The Common-Riding committee are aware that a few women are now wishing to have access to all Common-Riding functions and are also aware that under Equal Opportunities legislation they have the right to do so. The Common-Riding committee will not break the law. All those taking part must be aware that there are codes of conduct and protocols for these events and these must be respected.

“As a committee were are aware we live in a time of equal rights for women, and can appreciate this, although we also need to remember our historic traditions so that they can be passed on to the next generation. We ask, please, that your Cornet gets the positive support that he deserves.”

One source close to Hawick Common-Riding committee told the Border Telegraph: “At no time since 1996 would the committee, or anyone on it, have been able to stop women from riding to any of the chases or the Friday itself. But out of a common respect for tradition and custom, the girls chose not to ride at these events.

“Personally speaking, I do not see the issue with a small handful of events being male only but obviously my opinions are not shared by everyone.”