COUNCILLOR Michelle Ballantyne says she is disappointed no suitable premises for Borders Sport and Leisure (BSL) could be found in Selkirk.
The region’s largest sports organisation has submitted plans to move its headquarters on Dunsdale Road to the former Borders College trade building in Galashiels after being unable to find a building which could accommodate its expanding workforce.
But Mrs Ballantyne, Ettrick resident and Selkirkshire councillor, wants assurances that, if the switch goes ahead, the Royal Burgh will remain in the forefront of BSL’s thoughts.
She told us: “I understand the need to consolidate, but I am disappointed that there were no facilities in Selkirk that were suitable for BSL to relocate to.
“I hope this is not a sign that Selkirk will be overlooked in favour of Galashiels in the future.”
However, fellow Selkirkshire councillor Vicky Davidson, who is also executive member for culture, sport and community learning, said every attempt was made to keep the not-for-profit company in the ward.
She added: “We looked at a number of places in Selkirk, but nothing was suitable.
“The main problem was the lack of parking spaces at a number of the possible locations in the town.
“They also looked at commercial properties, but BSL took a longer term view and decided it would be more cost effective for them to have their own offices.
“I wanted to keep them in Selkirk and tried, but in the end moving to the former Border College building in Galashiels was the best option.”
BSL employs more than 300 people at sports facilities across the region, with its main office currently in Tweed Mills.
But its lease is due to end later this year and it requires bigger premises.
If successful, BSL is expected to close its current offices at Selkirk, as well as in Galashiels and Hawick as part of the relocation.
A BSL spokesperson said: “The organisation has increased its employee numbers by 44 per cent since July 2011 when it took on responsibility for sports development and the Active Schools programme (from Scottish Borders Council). The current headquarters has just 11 desk spaces and as 25 office-based staff are employed by the organisation, more space is required.
“In addition, office staff presently have to travel between three offices for meetings, adding time and expense to the organisation’s business operations.
“A number of options are being considered, one of which is the former Borders College building in Galashiels.
“Negotiations are currently under way and a change of use planning consent application has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council for consideration.
“Should these negotiations, and the change of use consent be successful, Borders Sport and Leisure hopes to purchase part of the former Borders College building and to relocate its office-based staff from three separate locations in Hawick, Selkirk and Galashiels to a new office in this central location.”
The former Borders College buildings on Melrose Road have been empty since the further education establishment moved to Netherdale in September 2009.
Despite a number of parties interested in taking over the buildings, however, the site remains empty.
A spokeswoman added: “The college has been marketing its surplus property with a view to sell since vacating in 2009.
“We are currently in negotiation regarding a part of our former site.”