Jockeying for rail poll position

I object to being dismissed as irrelevant by David Parker and Bill Jamieson (Borders Party rail poll dismissed as irrelevant, Southern, August 18).

I travelled from Galashiels to the Kelso show where I voted in the Borders Party poll on the value of the money being spent on the railway. I saw others from the Galashiels area doing the same and I’m sure some even managed to get to Duns and Peebles without a train or other adequate public transport.

Surely everyone’s opinion is valid wherever they live in the area? After all, we will all have to pay for the white elephant that is the proposed Borders railway and should have some say on how our money is used.

The proposed spend on the railway will not be good value for money. We are constantly being told that money is tight and there are better things to spend our increasingly scarce resources on, transport being just one area crying out for investment.

What we need is an improved road system. As the railway will not carry freight, the A7 and A68 should be upgraded to accommodate the huge lorries that trundle up and down, causing delays and damaging roads.

The Borders has a high percentage of elderly people in its population who will continue to use their bus passes to get around. A subsidised, synchronised bus service would be a far better investment for them and everyone else in the area. If people could get to work on time by bus there would be fewer cars on the road.

Messrs Parker and Jamieson should think before they speak and note that MORI and other pollsters often use small samples to effectively gauge public opinion.

I suggest they hold the same poll in Galashiels to see what the people they claim to represent really think.

Mary Douglas

Glendearg

Galashiels

Once again one is baffled by the transport policy of the Borders Party.

We are told that a majority among a multitude of folk – no less than 183 of them – at Peebles, Duns and Kelso were against the idea of the Borders railway. Hardly surprising when none of these three towns are anywhere near the line of rail.

How this sits with the Borders party’s advocacy of an upgraded A7 – again remote from the three towns – is beyond the understanding of simple voters like me. Is this from the same policy stable that supports rebuilding the railway to Carlisle, but is against a line to Tweedbank? We should be told.

However, there is a chink of light. It seems that Borders Party supporters with computers will crowd on to the new trains if Wi-Fi facilities are provided.

The fact that First Bus has inexplicably failed to offer such refinements on route X95 probably accounts for the fact that I have never seen Councillor Nicholas Watson on my frequent use of this service.

Richard Crockett

(vice-chair, Campaign for Borders Rail)

Ladhope Drive

Galashiels

There is more to the Borders Party’s Kelso poll about the return of the Waverley line than immediately meets the eye.

The press statement was issued by Tom Miers, a stalwart of the ultra-free market Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). An IEA spokesman, Richard Wellings, interviewed on Channel 4 news last week, proposed the removal of all rail subsidies, commenting: “This would close down branch lines in Scotland and Wales which hardly anyone uses.”

Nicholas Watson has always stressed his party’s green credentials. How does he explain such ideological allies?

Incidentally, the BBC reported at the weekend that numbers of passengers on some branch lines in tourist areas had doubled in the last couple of years.

Christopher Harvie

High Cross Avenue

Melrose

I refer to the article regarding the Borders Party poll being dismissed as irrelevant by Bill Jamieson – how I wish that a poll was conducted in Galashiels.

His further comment that “the poll took place at the Borders Party stand” just shows his ignorance of what the Borders Party represents – it is not just about being anti-railway. The Borders Party scepticism on “a railway to nowhere” is based on sound financial projections.

Thank goodness there is a party intelligent enough to make the distinction between development that brings benefits to the Borders and development which is damaging.

Sherry M. Fowler

Magdala Terrace

Galashiels

I have received a reply from transport minister Keith Brown confirming that the business plan for the Borders railway is based on a pool of 192,000 residents of the Borders and south Midlothian as potential users of the railway.

To anyone who knows the geographical spread of the area, this is clearly nonsense and as such the whole business plan needs to be called to question.

Malcolm Ross

Smailholm

I think the poll held by the Borders Party tells us more about them than it does about Borders people being against the forthcoming railway.

While 183 poor souls were subjected to humouring Nicholas Watson and his crew, many thousands of others took avoiding action and went about their business of enjoying the shows.

Ian Bell

Branxholme Road

Hawick