MEASURES taken to muffle noise caused by youngsters using the skateboard park in Kelso’s Shedden Park have been compared to a section of the Berlin Wall by residents at the Kerfield Court retirement flats which overlook the site.
Twenty-five of the residents gathered on Tuesday in the dining room of the complex, just off Dryinghouse Lane, to vent their fury over the “deflector” which was erected earlier this month by Scottish Borders Council at a cost of £3,000, after complaints from nearby homeowners about noise made by skateboarders.
The Kerfield Court residents, however, say the youngsters were never a problem and are concerned the local skateboarding community will mistake them as the source of complaints. Not only that, the deflector’s position puts it directly in straight line of sight from the front of Kerfield Court and its garden benches, blocking residents’ views of part of the park.
Local Scottish Borders councillor Tom Weatherston says the local authority had received a “number of complaints” from nearby residents of other properties about the levels of noise several months ago.
“With the summer holidays on, there was a fair bit of noise, sometimes after 10pm at night,” he told TheSouthern.
“There were several meetings on site with the residents who were complaining and a lot of different options were explored. The best of these was the erection of what is called a deflector, which is what has been erected in Shedden Park. That was the best option and one which had worked well in other areas.
“I accept, however, that with hindsight it might have been helpful to have notified the residents of Kerfield Court about what was happening.”
SBC this week also confirmed it did not need to apply for planning permission for the deflector – which would have seen neighbouring property owners notified and given the opportunity to object – since it is less than four metres high.
But the official explanations have done nothing to mollify those who live at Kerfield Court, furious that the council SBC did not seek their views. In a joint signed statement, the 25 residents at Tuesday’s meeting – there are 39 in total living at Kerfield Court – said the majority regarded the structure as “hideous”.
“We were not the people who raised any objection to the noise from the playground,” they stated.
“The wall is ugly and obscures our former view of the grass and trees beyond, not to mention our pleasant sight of the children playing there.
“The noise from the playground was not obtrusive: not nearly as objectionable as the terribly loud clanging and banging made by lorries bumping over the potholes in Dryinghouse Lane.
“We enjoyed seeing the children playing in Shedden Park and feel it is an excellent facility to keep them entertained, instead of playing aimlessly on the streets and perhaps getting into mischief.”
Residents say the council also needs to consider the health and safety aspect as children have already been seen to climb the deflector and fall off.
And one woman told us: “We believe there were only two complaints from people living nearby, yet this ugly structure went up based on that small number.
“If you buy a house overlooking a park, what do you expect? It’s meant to be a place for children to play and others to enjoy, and that sometimes means a bit of happy noise.”
Kelso Community Council has not met since the start of June and vice-chairman John Bassett says he and others, including Provost Fiona Scott, were unaware of the decision to erect the deflector until it was installed the weekend before last.
“I knew nothing about it and my personal view is that it’s an eyesore,” he said.