AN ONLINE petition has launched against Scottish Borders Council (SBC) using COVID recovery cash to fund coronation parties.

All community councils have been handed £500 each, totalling £34,500, to fund parties in their areas.

Alice Farrer set up the petition ‘Fund Borderers Not Bunting’ on

She said: “SBC recently voted by 18 to 15 votes to use COVID recovery funding as a ‘King’s coronation fund’ instead of handing that money to food banks in the Scottish Borders (there was a two-way vote).

“We have nothing against the King or the monarchy, but we find this to be an ill-advised misuse of local money in the current climate, when food bank use is exploding.

“If people wish to celebrate the coronation, they should spend their own money on cakes, bunting and venue hire, not public money.

“We urge the community councils of the Borders not to apply for funding from the King’s coronation fund.

“And to write to SBC expressing a position that the £34,500 should instead be given to food banks and other charities across the region.

“The council will no doubt claim the decision cannot be undone due to their standing orders, but that is their collective choice and our communities should have no part in encouraging this bad decision.

“We realise not everyone will agree with us, but we feel a moral imperative to raise our concerns in the forum of the community councils.”

Cheryl Ritchie, from Innerleithen, one of the first signatories, said: “‘Warm hubs’ are being opened, food bank usage is on the increase.

“Why are we using public funds on a party to celebrate a man born into wealth having a crown put on his head?

“If you like that then that’s great, but pay for your own celebrations.”

Sarah Cowan also from Innerleithen wrote: “If people want to celebrate they’re free to throw their own parties, but this funding should be spent where it is actually needed to help our communities through this increasingly difficult time.”

Alan Dawson from Edinburgh said: “You can’t eat bunting.”

Defending the use of COVID cash at a meeting last month, SBC leader Euan Jardine said: “I remember how dark the days of COVID were, how much we lost an opportunity to celebrate birthdays, weddings, spend time with our families and friends, and come together in the community. That’s what we’re looking to do here, we’re looking to bring people together, offer light from the darkness COVID gave us, unite not divide communities, offer escapism from the stresses of the world which seem to be growing daily, a chance to create memories that last a lifetime.”

Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton added: “The creation of a fund to celebrate a royal event has been a well-established norm in the Scottish Borders.

“Like it or not the king is our king. He represents us, he embodies us, he leads us.”