Road traffic orders requested for festivals

challenges made by motorists when stopped by police officers during the Borders common ridings and festivals look like costing Scottish Borders Council almost £17,000 - the cost of implementing Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders.

Other than the standard police ‘stop and hold’ powers there is currently no legislation to cover the stopping of traffic for ride-outs, fancy dress parades etc.

The police have drawn up a list of 22 festival dates where traffic orders are considered necessary, including Coldstream’s Flodden Ride on the Thursday of Civic Week in August and the closing day of Reivers Week celebrations in Duns in July. Scottish Borders Council is now being asked to approve the implementation of the traffic regulation orders in time for these events next year.

Advertising the proposed temporary road closures will cost £9,092. Other additional costs such as pre-warning signs, barriers and staff costs are expected to be around £7,680. The council estimate that these costs will be around £350 at Coldstream and £310 at Duns - the highest costs being at the Selkirk festival main day (£1330).

“A number of meetings have been held with Chief Inspector Doug Forsyth of Lothian and Borders Police and he has advised that over the past two/three years, the number of instances where officers on ‘points’ duty have been challenged has seen a noticeable increase,” says a report to councillors.

“The view of Lothian and Borders Police is that they are open to potential challenge in the courts, and therefore, they believe it is their duty to protect the Chief Constable from such claims in the future. They are therefore seeking the promotion of Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTRO).

“In particular the police have highlighted an incident in Jedburgh in 2008 which required the specific intervention of the event Silver Commander whose ability to persuade the driver to take an alternative route was achieved, although it was very clear at the time that the driver was well informed in respect of the fact that no TTRO was in place.

“Over the course of the last few months the police have also referred to a number of other anecdotal stories where difficulties were experienced by visitors to the Borders and which caused problems for the police officers who were on duty.”

Advising councillors of the risk of continuing to stop traffic for these events without specific legislation in place, SBC’s head of legal and democratic services, Ian Wilkie, said: “There is a risk that the current practice within the Scottish Borders of road closures for local events being undertaken without recourse to TTROs might be challenged in the courts.

“This would greatly damage the council’s reputation and threaten the common ridings and local summer festivals. The promotion of TTROs would help to mitigate that risk.

“If legislation was enacted which amended the police ‘stop and hold’ powers to authorise the use of such powers for Border common ridings and local summer festivals, then this would also mitigate the risk of legal challenge to current practice.”

The cost to SBC of providing services for common ridings and summer festivals across the region was £51,572 in 2009/10 (£1,424 in Berwickshire). If councillors approve the 22 road traffic orders requested by the police the extra £16,772 costs would be met from SBC’s resources department budget.