Probe into process that led to Great Tapestry location

The Great Tapestry of Scotland. ''Pic Neil Hanna
The Great Tapestry of Scotland. ''Pic Neil Hanna
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The process which led to the decision to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland in Tweedbank is to be the subject of an investigation.

Scottish Borders Council will set up a working group to examine how it handled the procedure.

This comes after more than 4,000 people signed a petition against the project, to which the council allocated £3.5 million. Concerns have also been raised that its planning application was approved by a committee of just four members.

Tweeddale councillor Keith Cockburn said the group will address “public disquiet” over the decision-making process.

“We can definitely make sure that we can learn some things about the consultation,” he said.

“There’s been many questions about how we looked at the alternative sites, how we looked at the feasibility of the business plan, etc. A decision has been made so we have to recognise and respect that, but also look at what we can learn from it.”

A petition against basing the tapestry at Tweedbank was considered “very carefully” by councillors, council leader David Parker said at the time.

However the petitions and deputations committee decided to take no further action.

Councillor Jim Torrance said the working group was not needed as the subject had been fully debated twice at council.

“It’s been debated so much I don’t see what any working group is going to find out from it that’s going to be of any use,” he added.

Not everyone in the region agrees that Tweedbank, at the end of the new Borders to Edinburgh railway, is the best location.

Some councillors in Hawick are unhappy that what they see as the capital of the area’s textile trade was not given greater consideration. Conservatives were unhappy that no attempt was made to source private investment before public money was committed. They warned that services would suffer.

The council’s scrutiny committee voted to set up a tapestry working group at its next meeting.

Earlier this year a panel of the Great Tapestry of Scotland was stolen while it was on display at a gallery. Staff at Kirkcaldy Galleries in Fife discovered that panel 36, showing Rosslyn Chapel, had been taken.

Said to be the longest tapestry in the world, the work features 160 panels which were stitched by more than 1,000 volunteers.