A JEDBURGH councillor has claimed plans to promote his home town have hit a dead end due to a “strange” Transport Scotland ruling.
Jim Brown, along with Jed Valley Community Council, hopes to erect a 3m by 4m sign on the A68 near Carter Bar to encourage motorists travelling north to visit the Royal Burgh.
But the Scottish Government agency in charge of the country’s trunk roads has decided to oppose the development – which would be situated around 10 miles south of Jedburgh – due to safety concerns.
Councillor Brown told us: “It seems a strange ruling to me.
“While on one hand the government says that it wants to encourage tourism, Transport Scotland feels that even well designed and appropriately-sized signs, on private land, are not acceptable due to safety issues.”
If Transport Scotland overturned its decision, Councillor Brown said he would liaise with the town’s community council and Jedburgh traders over the final draft of the £4,000 sign, with ‘free parking’ and ‘town centre shopping’ possible additions to the placard.
“With the support of the community council, I simply want to advertise the amenities within Jedburgh well in advance,” he added.
“A local farmer is happy to allow the siting of this signage, JVCC are happy to apply for the grant funding needed, Scottish Borders Council are happy to advise, design and erect it.
“Most drivers travelling through Jedburgh via the bypass do not stop and this could be an opportunity to attract more business into the town centre.
“But it is not easy to move large organisations like Transport Scotland.”
A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: “We have considered the calls carefully and in this case it has been decided that based on road safety considerations, which are our primary priority, that the sign could cause an unnecessary distraction and therefore we turned down the request.”
Councillor Brown is also dismayed with the lack of support from his fellow elected representatives surrounding his bid to install another sign – situated in England – to promote the central Borders. He wants SBC to lobby the Scottish Government to look into a board being built on the A1 south of the A696 junction to Newcastle Airport to highlight the region as a tourist route to Edinburgh.
But the SNP member told us: “Sadly, not all of my colleagues agree with my suggestion and are taking what I believe to be a very parochial point of view.
“I feel that there is more to gain than lose for the central Borders if we can encourage tourists off the main trunk route and have them travel up through the Borders.”