Gala’s dereliction predicted

Which planet, I wonder, does David Houston and Euan Doyle inhabit? I don’t think it’s the same one I live on.

Their comments in last week’s Southern defy belief.

To ask shoppers to return to Galashiels town centre – “use it or lose it” – when they have been actively encouraged to shop at the new retail centres is like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

The horse bolted in part because of parking restrictions and costs in Galashiels, and the new retail developments being allowed to open with free parking, thereby taking shoppers from the town centre.

The closure of Semi-Chem and other shops has little to do with the recession or roadworks – after all, Semi-Chem is a budget shop and should do well in hard times. It’s just that you can’t park in Channel Street easily and you can buy everything offered in Semi-Chem in any of the large supermarkets.

Planners were warned by locals and the residents of towns where superstores have been allowed that this would result in the dereliction of the town centre – and so it has come to pass.

I remember at one meeting a lady from Irvine saying: “Believe me, you don’t want this.” She was right, but nobody listened.

Also, David Houston cannot have failed to notice that we are already a quarter of the way through 2012 with no tenders to build the railway. There is no way it can be completed by 2014, bringing with it his predicted stampede of shoppers.

If and when it does come, why would anyone travel from Edinburgh to Galashiels to shop when all that is on offer is the chain stores they have plenty of at home?

I would prefer the new retail developments be flattened and the “sympathetically-designed civic space” be located there instead.

It is about time Messrs Doyle and Houston came back down to earth to see what is really going on.

Mary Douglas

Glendearg

Galashiels

I found last week’s article on the decline of stores in Galashiels very sad.

However, surely all those who make decisions on the town’s future were fully aware of the repercussions of allowing the building of two 24-hour superstores.

Scottish Borders Council’s reasons for allowing these, we are told, is for their contributions towards the Borders railway construction.

When you look at the independent stores that have closed you will find not only has the recession taken its toll, but all the products and services of these stores are now sold by Tesco and Asda. One of the plus points is the supply of part-time work for a large number of people – but this is a large price to pay for the decline of the major town in the Borders.

Unfortunately, it is impossible for the small operator to compete on a level playing field – hence the vast number of closures.

I cannot believe that large numbers of shoppers will visit the town when the railway opens its halt in Galashiels.

Sorry, but Galashiels is doomed to become another Dalkeith.

Tony Birch

Clovenfords