New light on who pays for abbey illumination

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TEMPORARY floodlighting has been installed at Jedburgh Abbey after the existing lights were switched off because they were dangerous. And it now transpires that the responsibility for lighting lies with Scottish Borders Council.

Last month, the councillor in charge of infrastructure claimed Historic Scotland was responsible for floodlighting the abbey.

Jim Fullarton (Con, East Berwickshire) gave that assurance to local councillor Jim Brown (SNP) who was complaining that the lights had been switched off for safety reasons and were unlikely to be reconnected in time for the festive season.

But TheSouthern can reveal that, after a meeting between council officials and Historic Scotland last week, it has been established that the council, not the Scottish Government agency, is responsible for illuminating the 900-year-old abbey.

After the meeting, Colin Ovens, SBC’s infrastructure manager, told councillors: “Having reviewed the position with Historic Scotland, I have established that the council is responsible for the management and maintenance of the floodlighting system.”

He revealed that a report was being prepared for the council to consider the options for the future provision of lights.

According to Councillor Len Wyse (Con, Jedburgh and District) the cost to the council of renewing the system will be around £50,000.

However, Mr Wyse welcomed the news from Mr Ovens that, in view of the concerns over the lack of lighting over the Christmas and New Year period, three temporary mobile lighting units, each generating 4kw, had been installed to illuminate the abbey until January 5.

Mr Wyse stated: “We cannot argue with the fact that the existing lighting was too dangerous and unreliable to leave on.

“ I am pleased however that my suggestion over the installation of temporary lighting has been acted on. It’s not an ideal solution but it is better than nothing.”

Mr Brown praised Mr Ovens for his “speedy response”. He added: “I am also grateful to The Southern Reporter for highlighting this issue and paving the way for this compromise.”