This image of Ellemford Bridge, built in 1886 by the Berwickshire Road Trustees, was supplied by Borders freelance photographer Stuart Cobley.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
A PERFECT SITE FOR CLARK TROPHIES
After seeing last week’s Berwickshire News stories about Greenlaw Town Hall and the late great Jim Clark, a few things flew through my head.
I hope by sharing some of my thoughts I might just be able to motivate someone, or at least make folk think.
The Jim Clark trophy room in Newtown Street, Duns, is far too small and in need of refurbishment and enlarging at some considerable expense. The wheels are in motion to execute this plan, but it is apparently still short of funds which, I believe, those behind it are struggling to raise.
Jim didn’t come from Duns, but was originally from Fife. However, his family farmed and lived at Edington Mains which, of course, is not in Duns, but on the Berwick side of Chirnside.
Jim started his racing career at Charterhall, only three miles east of Greenlaw. Now, funnily enough, Greenlaw just happens to have a large building currently up for sale at a bargain price of £125,000 on the main A697 Edinburgh-Newcastle road.
Would it be naive to think that the powers-that-be would even consider moving the Jim Clark trophy room to a perfect site on a main road with plenty of space to exhibit all of Jim’s magnificent trophies and photographs? I’m sure many of the historic racing cars which Jim drove over the years and are hidden away in garages and warehouses scattered round the country could be brought here and displayed.
The building has plenty of space which could also be utilised to show Charterhall’s evolution from an RAF aerodrome during the war to a racing circuit not only used by Jim, but other great famous racing drivers such as Jackie Stewart, Innes Ireland, Ron Flockhard and Stirling Moss.
This could well be the perfect opportunity to create a world class modern motor museum in Scotland on a prime route in the centre of Berwickshire.
God forbid that Duns lost a tourist attraction – especially to Greenlaw!
Oh, another thought – are they still looking for a home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland?
SAD STORY OF A SPLENDID BUILDING
Back in 2007, with the intention of converting a splendid old building into a theatre for the benefit of the local community and others, we tried hard to buy Greenlaw Town Hall.
But throughout our dealings with Peter Leggate, of the Greenlaw Town Hall Project Committee, and others, such as James Simpson, of Simpson and Brown Architects, and Jura Consultants, with whom we had to communicate, we felt that an agenda already existed and that we thus had no chance of success – the only person we felt encouraged by was Scottish Borders Council’s Mark Douglas.
Brunskill and Loveday has a long history of professional theatrical involvement going back to 1899, and it saddens us that Greenlaw Town Hall just sits there having, in effect, in these last 10 years, achieved nothing.
Blaming poor internet speed and the lack of a toilet, the Scottish Historical Buildings Trust appears to have decided to wash it hands of it. How very sad.
Brunskill and Loveday
POWER LIES WITH DEVELOPERS
Tuesday, February 7, was a sorry day for planning in East Lothian as the saga of Jackman’s Folly came to an end.
The planning committee agreed to the Cala development at Beveridge Row, subject to conditions, despite widespread concerns about flooding, drainage and sewerage, increased traffic movement, loss of habitat and much more. I feel personally saddened, having fought this inappropriate development on behalf of the community for nearly five years.
Councillor Michael Veitch, who had no vote, described the situation as “as slap in the face for local democracy”.
The planning committee were largely hamstrung because of the decision by reporter Dan Jackman in 2014 to give outline planning permission for the site, despite him seeing the flooding and road issues, following an appeal on grounds on non-determination by the local authority from Hallam Land Management. This meant councillors had to have very strong grounds to refuse Cala’s detailed application as Cala might have appealed and East Lothian Council possibly left to pick up Cala’s costs.
Since the meeting I have been in contact with campaign group Planning Democracy who see this site as an example of problems with the current Scottish planning system, which the Scottish Government is currently reviewing. Beveridge Row is an example of the lack of equality in the current process.
One man, Dan Jackman, could make a decision that will see West Barns merge into greater Dunbar. He walked away from the public inquiry in 2013, but local residents will need to live with the result of his decision for years to come.
The appeals process is unequal. The developer could appeal and kept it going for nearly a year, but the community had no right of appeal, except on a point of law.
This situation needs urgent change as local democracy and local knowledge of sites and their issues are thwarted by the monied power of developers. The situation is pressured by the Scottish Government’s demand for more houses being built, even on unsuitable sites that lack infrastructure which must be funded by cash-strapped councils.
The Jackman’s Folly decision does not bode well for future planning in East Lothian. Developers are already making applications outwith the forthcoming Local Plan – e.g. at Newtonlees Farm and Preston Mains, near East Linton. Even if refused locally, the developers can appeal and, as seen here, power in the process is currently with them.
It is important that if communities are to engage with the local planning process in the future, local development plans must be sacrosanct and developments should not be allowed outwith them. A reporter should only be able to overturn a local decision if it is evidenced that the local decision was unfair. Otherwise the local development plan process – which takes many hours of council officer, elected member and community time – is meaningless.
It is vital that East Lothian residents feel that the planning process is listening to them and not the developers. This is not about nimbyism, but about giving a true voice to local democracy and communities in decisions which affect them for generations to come.
WOMEN MISSING THE POINT
There has been a knee-jerk reaction to President Donald Trump’s banning entrance of people from certain states to America.
Many, including our own MP, Callum Kerr, have jumped on the populist bandwagon in order to get mentions wherever possible. That’s because many MPs stop thinking the moment they get into parliament and spend their energies in becoming re-electable.
Those in Britain and America who were showing their disgust at Mr Trump seem not to know that America has the mechanisms to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the hands of a dictator.
The Queen may decree a certain thing in Britain, but since James II had his backside kicked out, the Lords and Commons will modify our response to her will.
Any American or Briton has a right to freedom of conscience and may hold any opinion, from the lowest to the United States president. We are free to tell Mr Trump what we think of him. Many of the people Mr Trump wishes to ban from the US neither enjoy, or share, America’s views on freedom – religious, political or familial.
In the fifties and sixties, many people came to Britain from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They came to escape tyrrany, poverty, persecution and corruption.
Unfortunately, they did not abandon the fetters which had bound them on the shores that they were escaping from.
The caste system still flourishes in Britain. Also, bondsmanship, where whole families are ‘owned’ by the people who paid for their passage here, forced marriage and exile of children who fail to obey parents (they get sent to the ‘home country’ as punishment).
Women on the march against Donald Trump completely miss the point.
If they were living in a Muslim country, or if they lived in certain towns and cities in Britain, would not be allowed out.
Their vote would be ‘postal’ and be sold by their husbands, signed, and ready to be marked with a cross by the henchmen of the politician benefitting from their votes.
Women never seem to protest when an Arab prince wanders into Heathrow with a queue of child brides and Philippine slave girls (free to be beaten, starved and forced into labour without pay, national insurance or a company car).
What worries me is that if Britain is to survive outside the EU, it needs far better politicians, bankers, industrial leaders and union officials than it now has.
TOO LATE FOR CROCODILE TEARS
With all the talk of bed blocking in the larger hospitals, mainly because elderly folk have nowhere to go, can I just say the following?
In Coldstream, a retirement home in Guards Road, which was closed down about 10 years ago (or more), is still remaining in situ shuttered up.
Also, the former Coldstream Cottage Hospital is now a dental practice. These places were used, in many cases, to take patients for recovery after being discharged from Borders General Hospital and others in the area.
How many other cottage hospitals and council-owned homes have been ‘made redundant’?
Short-sighted policies have caused the present NHS crisis and there is no need now to cry crocodile tears. Too late.
MARGARET HOPE MEMORIAL TROPHY
The annual darts competition for the Margaret Hope Memorial Trophy was held for the sixth year on Saturday, February 4, at the Eildon Centre, Coldstream.
Congratulations go to the winners, Nicola Hogarth and Stein Paterson, who beat Marie Lawrie and Joe Condy in the final. Thanks must go to Donald, Marie and Lynsey Moffat for the use of the Eildon, and for organising and running the event again this year. Also, many thanks to everyone for taking part, donating raffle prizes and buying raffle tickets.
The amazing amount of £905 was raised for Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland which brings a total of more than £3,100 raised for this charity over the six years the competition has been running. Jimmy and the girls greatly appreciate the continued support.
Jimmy Hope and family
May I, through your paper, thank everyone who supported the Joseph Walker Memorial Trophy mixed pairs darts competition in aid of the Eyemouth Lifeboat. The total raised was £400.
Thanks to everyone for all the donations and raffle prizes. Thanks also to Douglas and staff at The Tavern for their hospitality and to the lifeboat crew for the basket of flowers.
The winners of the darts were Jamie Aitchison and Susan Smith and runners-up were David Purves and Agnes Aitchison.
As Theresa May and her wee coterie of barmy Brexiteers sink ever deeper into la-la land, the surreal tone of the No. 10 propaganda machine gets ever more bizarre.
Why on Earth will the EU do anything other than make Brexit as painful as possible for England?
Economically, politically, socially and culturally, England is irrelevant in Europe. It contributed nothing to the EU in 42 years of membership.
Even before the trade barriers go up, inflation is rising and will surely be in double figures by the end of the year. The cost so far of Brexit in terms of collapse of the pound, loss of business deals and employment and education openings closed off is already astronomical – although we will never, of course, be told the true figure.
But I see that at least 230,000 jobs are going in the financial services sector alone, and that is but the tip of one of the many unemployment icebergs that England faces. Those young folk not smart enough to get out before B-Day will surely be left to fight like cats in a sack for the few remaining low-paid jobs that might still exist in the failed pariah state that will soon be England.
And all this is to say nothing of the environmental, contractual, social and employment safeguards that EU law provides and that May will gleefully hack away once B-Day arrives.
The only thing I still find odd is that anyone was surprised by the result. It’s really awfy simple. The equation goes something like: “Take the most backward and racist political entity in Europe, pose a question at a referendum where the thinly-disguised sub-text is, ‘Do you really hate all foreigners?’, and, hey presto, a predictable response”.
The English voted in droves for what will turn out to be their political, economic and social Armageddon. We should not offer sympathy – the smart ones will get out and the rest deserve everything that is coming to them.