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February 13, 2008

Tweedsmuir community fight to save local pub

This remote Borders community has seen the closure of their local primary school, the local shop and post office in recent years. The local pub, The Crook Inn, is one of the few remaining facilities in the community. When the current owner decided to demolish it and build flats, local people decided they had to take action


Despite the planning officer stating his support for the application, the Tweeddale councillors were unanimous in their dismissal of the application. The only difference of opinion was the best way to reject it. Some wanted just to turn it down flat, the rest wanted to force the owners, Inverwest Ltd,. into remarketing at a realistic price. In the end, the latter option was selected, which is extremely positive news for the community. As even if we were to fail in our attempt to secure the Community Right to Buy through the Land Reform Act, when marketed at a realistic price, we know there are people out there who recognise the excellent business opportunity the Crook Inn represents.

It might be worth just putting the loss of the Crook into context, as not everyone lives in a small rural community, and might be wondering why such a fuss is being made over a pub.

Tweedsmuir is one of those rare places that still has a thriving and vibrant community. It’s usually a shock for new residents to move here and discover we do actually all know each other, and we do things as a community from Burn’s suppers to Curry nights, from Film shows to Tug ‘o’ war competitions. It has it’s disadvantages of course, everyone is interested in your business, and they say the Tweedsmuir gossip network makes the internet seem pedestrian in comparison. But the advantages of having a group of people who genuinely care about you and your family, and who you know you can rely on when things go wrong is something that is nowadays rare and valuable.
The community and the rural lifestyle it stems from is however under intense pressure. In recent years Tweedsmuir has seen the loss of it’s school, it’s shop, it’s post office, it’s public transport. As one of Tweedsmuir’s last remaining assets, the Crook Inn plays a pivotal role within the community as a meeting place, a place to have fun, a place to do business, a place of employment and training, a place to reinforce the ties of friendship that underpin our community.

So, when we say we want to save the Crook Inn, please realise that for us it’s much more than a pub, it’s an opportunity to turn around the fortunes of Tweedsmuir and start to rebuild what we have lost and what has been taken from us.

We have shown that Inverwest Ltd. have presented flawed and erroneous information in support of their application
We have shown that the so called marketing of the Inn was a complete farce.

We’ve shown that the Inn has and can be run profitably, and there are buyers willing to pay a fair price for it.
All of this has been ignored and the word of the owner taken without question by the Planning Department. Even the evidence they requested themselves has not been considered.

We are confused at how the Scottish Borders Planning department can come to a decision that seems to go so strongly against opinion and evidence. In the light of this and whatever the outcome of this application, we will be calling for an independent investigation of the way this application has been handled.