Olympic torch must not interfere with common riding, says council boss

Gordon Edgar with the censored council transcript.
Gordon Edgar with the censored council transcript.

SELKIRK has welcomed its inclusion on the Olympic torch route – but organisers have been warned not to interfere with the town’s common riding celebrations.

The 80cm-tall perforated flame will travel through Selkirk on the afternoon of June 14 next year, just hours before the traditional prelude to Common Riding Day, the Cryin’ O’ The Burley.

But doubts have been cast on incorporating the Olympic torch’s presence in the Royal Burgh with its historic annual festival.

Outgoing community council chairman Gordon Edgar said: “I think it is a great idea to bring the torch through the local area and it should get the youngsters in Selkirk involved.

“But let’s not forget the Common Riding. Yes, it is a unique occasion, but we have to make sure it does not interfere with the Common Riding.”

Selkirkshire councillor Kenneth Gunn believes the town is delighted to be included in the route across the UK, which will include 8,000 torchbearers carrying the flame an average distance of 300 metres.

But he added: “I just hope that the runners are through Selkirk before about 6.30pm, as when the Cryin’ O’ the Burley is proclaimed by the Senior Burgh Officer there will indeed be ‘all these and a great many more’ parading Selkirk’s ancient streets.”

David Anderson, of the town’s Common Riding Trust, told us: “I can’t see it doing any harm and it should not affect the Common Riding greatly.

“The Common Riding doesn’t really start until Thursday evening. I can’t see it having any positive or negative affect on the Common Riding.”

But community council vice-chairman Lindsay Neil hoped both events could be celebrated side-by-side by Souters.

“This is an honour for the town and with London being so far away, it is a chance for those in Selkirk to be involved in the Olympics,” said Dr Neil.

“We will discuss the topic at the next community council meeting, but the onus is on the Common Riding Trust if they wish to be involved.

“It is a massive occasion and even if the Standard Bearer could carry the torch for 300 yards it would serve as a signal of the town’s involvement,” he added.

Meanwhile, Selkirkshire councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre told TheSouthern: “It’s wonderful that the Olympic torch, with its flame kindled on Mount Olympus, will be carried aloft through Selkirk during its ‘Silver summit of the year’.

“It’s absolutely right that it should be carried proudly through the Royal and Ancient Burgh of Selkirk and I’m sure we will all be there to cheer it on.”

The route, announced last week, will take in Eddleston, Peebles, Innerleithen and Walkerburn during the morning of June 14 before visiting Selkirk, Galashiels, Earlston, Gordon, Duns, Chirnside and Foulden later in the day.

But the decision to omit Roxburghshire has caused anger, with Jedburgh councillor Len Wyse threatening to raise the matter at next week’s council meeting.