Fears for kids’ safety at mills

Heather Mill in Selkirk has been left derelict for a number of years.
Heather Mill in Selkirk has been left derelict for a number of years.

Calls have been made for greater security measures at derelict buildings after emergency services were called to a fire at Heather Mill on Tuesday.

Elizabeth Philip, of South Bridge Street, has raised concerns over the safety of children playing at the site after her brother, Joseph, died aged 14 when he fell through the roof of a derelict mill at Innerleithen 26 years ago.

Heather Mill in Selkirk has been left derelict for a number of years.

Heather Mill in Selkirk has been left derelict for a number of years.

The mother of one, who walks her dogs by the 19th century building daily, said it has been problematic for years, but the last three weeks has seen an increase of youngsters at the site due to a broken window and door.

She said: “When kids are playing they don’t think about safety. Somebody’s going to get injured and just this week there was a fire.”

Recalling the 1991 tragedy, she said: “My brother was messing around with his pals and that’s all it takes, kids just thinking it’s a cool place to play in.”

She added: “Over the years it’s the same thing ... when a window gets broken it gets boarded up, but that then gets broken too.

“They need to get it appropriately fixed so that these things can’t happen.

“The walls aren’t high enough to stop people getting in and it’s very accessible.”

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson confirmed that work to secure the site had been carried out this week after officers attended the former woollen mill on Monday.

He said: “Following a further visit on Tuesday morning it was apparent that access had once again been forced to the property.

“Officers have been liaising with the owners of the property to ensure that the building is secure and they have taken the necessary steps this week to prevent access.”

Two fire engines and a police car were called to a fire at the building – currently for sale as potential housing – on Tuesday at 7.50pm, where they extinguished a small fire.

A Scottish Fire and Rescue service said: “There were no casualties and firefighters ensured the area was made safe before leaving the scene.

“We are always concerned about the possibility of anyone accessing any empty premises and will always take appropriate measures to work with the community and our partners to reduce risk.”

Elizabeth added: “The best thing that could happen is for it to be pulled down.”