Mum slams common riding trust over sacking of principals

SELKIRK Common Riding Trust has this week been criticised for taking the unprecedented step of sacking two of this year’s four Attendants.

Rikki McLean, 27, and Craig Monks, 20, have been advised that any application from them to become Royal Burgh Standard Bearer will not be considered “in the forseeable future”.

The decision was revealed in recorded delivery letters to both men on Tuesday, June 28, after a special meeting of the trust, which has sole responsibility for appointing Common Riding principals. The trust includes representatives of the town’s various casting organisations along with the three Scottish Borders Council members for Selkirkshire.

It was formed in 1975 to perform duties in relation to the ceremonial aspects of the Common Riding previously carried out by the former Selkirk Town Council.

Asked to clarify local rumours, the trust’s non-voting clerk, Johnnie Thomson, last week confirmed the meeting had been called after an alleged incident of disorder involving the two Attendants at the Braw Lads’ Gathering Ball in Galashiels on Saturday, June 25.

Mr Thomson said he had discussed the incident with his counterpart in Galashiels, Hazel Newlands, who, on behalf of the Braw Lads’ Executive Council, was content for the matter to be handled by the Selkirk trust.

He stated: “On the Tuesday after the ball, Rikki and Craig were asked to give an account of what had happened at a meeting with honorary Provost and trust chairman Les Millar and Bailies Alan Linton (Fleshers) and David Anderson (Ex-Standard Bearers) who later reported to the trust they were dissatisfied with the explanation, the attitude of the pair and their lack of contrition.

“The trust unanimously believed their conduct fell below the standard expected of Attendants representing Selkirk at an official function of another Borders town and I was instructed to write the letter which also cites another alleged altercation involving the two men at the Fleshers Bussing in the Victoria Hall [in Selkirk] on June 11.

“Since then, Rikki has written to appeal the decision, while Craig’s mother has urged the trustees to reconsider.

“As things stand, however, the decision has been made and the trust has no plans to meet again until November.”

Ten of the 12 trust members attended the special meeting. The absentees were Councillor Vicky Davidson and Jim Henderson, who represents Selkirk Colonial Society.

But Mr Monks’s mother, Iona, in a letter to the Selkirk Weekend Advertiser which ran the story last Friday, has expressed dissatisfaction with the trust.

“The whole issue has been blown up out of proportion and, in my view, badly handled by the trust,” said Mrs Monks. “I think the handling of the situation shows an immaturity or lack of knowledge and would ask that, in future, more careful consideration is taken before life-changing decisions are made.

“A visit from a trust member or even a phone call to explain the situation would have been a better option than sending a recorded delivery letter. I have not, as stated, asked the trust to reconsider its decision, but only for a copy of the evidence used in their decision, but have been told this will not be dealt with before the next meeting in November.

“This in itself is a disgrace. I can take no further action on Craig’s behalf until that reply is received.

“The boys have made a mistake, but have not broken any laws; they have not been arrested or taken to court. Their dreams have been destroyed over a stupid incident that was not a fight and, after all, even a murderer or drug dealer gets a fair trial.

“Craig and Rikki were asked to be Attendants this year due to a shortage of young men coming forward. I now wish they had not helped out. Not only is it a costly experience to be an Attendant – the grant is only £300 – but this incident has now destroyed reputations which are very hard to repair.

“I would ask all members of the trust if they have ever made a mistake when they were young. I have known many trust members for years and would ask them to think over how this has been dealt with.

“They now need to consider how they are going to deal with every little incident that happens regarding the young men waiting to be Standard Bearers.

“I, for one, will be watching to make sure they treat others as they have treated my son.”