Disabled access to be delivered by Christmas

Iris Hutcheon and Cll. Jim Brown at the Jedburgh underpass which is unusable for wheelchairs due to the steps.
Iris Hutcheon and Cll. Jim Brown at the Jedburgh underpass which is unusable for wheelchairs due to the steps.

Christmas will come early for Jedburgh resident Iris Hutcheon – after six years of campaigning for disabled access to an A68 underpass.

Indeed, it will be like six Christmases at once, as Iris will, for the first time, use the underpass opposite her home in Richmond Row to get to the town centre, rather than take risks by having to cross the busy trunk route on her mobility scooter.

We reported in October on the council’s U-turn on policy in the matter, as they prepared to cost the work required to make the underpass mobility scooter friendly.

And this week, Councillor Jim Brown informed The Southern of the proposed date of work – December 12. The underpass will be closed during the process, which will cost £7,500, but it is in line to be reopened on December 20.

Iris, who has since moved back to her home in Richmond Row after being relocated following a flood, says she is delighted at the news.

She said: “It has been a long time coming, it has been a long, hard fight.

“But I’ll be a happy person as long as there are no further delays and this is completed by Christmas.

“I am pretty sure that none of this would have happened if The Southern had not taken up my case, so I really need to thank you as well for all your help.”

And for Mr Brown, it signifies the end of a battle for him as well.

He told us this week: “It has been a long and difficult task for me to arrive where we are today.

“Drawings for a solution to the problem have been being prepared for several months now and only last week I finally managed to gain support of my fellow Cheviot Area colleagues to allow the funding to be put in place to carry out the work.

“Making the steps scooter friendly was always “possible”, but doing so within present day DDA requirements has always been the stumbling block.

“The suggestion that no funding was in place at the time was simply because the roads budget is laid out well in advance, the normal procedure is to draw up the plans then look for the funding.

“I thank you for your interest in this case and can understand Mrs Hutcheon’s impatience, however, the good news is that our officers have now come up with a solution.

“At an estimated cost of £7,500 it is considerably more expensive than first envisaged, but hopefully will achieve the purpose of allowing mobility scooters, prams, wheelchairs etc, safe access under the A68.”