Ex-councillor Lamb defends Gala shows at Public Park

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CALLS by a football coach for the fairground during the Braw Lads’ Gathering in Galashiels to be moved from the Public Park to the Scott Park were rubbished by a former councillor this week, writes Bob Burgess.

And fairground family the Slaters have jumped to the defence of fellow travelling showfolk the Codonas who operate the Galashiels shows.

The Public Park, adjacent to the town’s fire station, was left a quagmire when the shows pulled out, following heavy rain.

And that led Fred Blackie of Border Amateur side Gala Hotspur – who use the park as their home base – to express fears that his league-winning side could be left homeless when the new season gets under way.

And, as we reported last week, Mr Blackie suggested moving the shows to the Scott Park which lies next to Galashiels Academy.

He had told us: “It [the Scott Park] is not used by any sports teams so there is not such a need to repair it and it is in the centre of the town so it would be a perfect location.”

But Bill Lamb of Galashiels – a councillor for 35 years until he retired – says that wouldn’t work. Mr Lamb was the Scottish correspondent of the World Fair magazine for 45 years covering shows, circus and fairs, and has defended the present location.

He told TheSouthern: “Mr Blackie’s suggestion is ludicrous, it simply would not work and there would be no benefit. The Public Park has been in worse conditions and has also bounced back.

“The shows have been operated on that site since the inception of the Braw Lads’ Gathering in 1930 by William Codona and Sons. They pay a full rental for the park and also pay for any reinstatement work that is needed.

“The Public Park is the only site in the town that is suitable – it is level, highly visible and there is easy access for the vehicles. The Scott Park undulates and the access for vehicles would be terrible.”

And Shirley Slater of Slaters Showtime Funfairs told TheSouthern: “Travelling showmen pride themselves in the way they conduct their business and a big part of that is leaving all the sites they occupy in the best possible condition.

“After the wettest June since records began, the Public Park was waterlogged by the end of the fair. The Codona family and the other showmem on site employed a local farmer – not a council tractor – to tow them out as slowly and safely as possible. The farmer was then paid to harrow and roller it – hopefully leaving it as we found it.”

She added: “The showmen have been coming to Galashiels for one week in the year. As well as making a living, they spend a considerable amount of money with local traders. The shows bring something different to the town. When they open, you can see every generation enjoying the attractions. This year especially a big thank you goes out to the public who came and supported us in some terrible conditions. I hope the shows will always be able to enjoy and attend Galashiels – on the Public Park.”