GATTONSIDE villagers are challenging the council to stand by its pledge to safeguard green spaces.
The group, who asked to remain nameless, is accusing the local authority of failing when it comes to a triangular area at the top of the Loan in the village, described by one now as “a midden”.
But Scottish Borders Council (SBC) this week said it does not own the ground nor is it allowed to look after it.
A villager said: “The triangle has been allowed to go to rack and ruin and it’s a total eyesore.”
Residents had applied for peaceful use of the land, but then it was fenced off, he said.
“The triangle has been used by villagers for a long long time but it’s an eyesore now and it’s just a great shame.
“All the village wants is for them to put it back to rights, that’s all people are asking for.
“It’s for the Borders as much as the village. It used to have a bench on it, it’s on a walking route and walkers used to go there and have picnics and sit on the bench – they can’t do that any more.”
The ground used to be maintained by SBC and previous local authorities, said the villagers.
But that stopped in 2010, the residents claim, and the area is covered in weeds and fenced off.
In a joint statement, the villagers say: “For local people, ‘the green triangle’ is a much-valued treasure, consistent with the local plan public inquiry reporter’s conclusion that its destruction ‘would have a very harmful impact on the rustic character of this quiet backwater’.
“It provides a welcome transition between the village and the countryside; is the starting point for the drove road to Earlston, an SBC core path and the lane, part of SBC’s Wider Path Network, that leads to the Southern Upland Way.
“It is enjoyed by many casual and regular users, ranging from individual strollers to the Melrose Rideout. Indeed, the development landscape capacity study notes that on the return journey to the village it gives ‘such a strong sense of arrival’ that alternatives are difficult to identify.
“The local plan settlement profile emphasises the pressure on the village and says: ‘It is important that the areas of open space within the settlement are protected’.”
The writers ask how the council can “allow the sorry mess that now exists to continue” given that the site is recognised in the council’s green space strategy as being of high value and that it has a certificate of lawful use as amenity green space.
And they challenge SBC: “Come on Scottish Borders Council – let’s see some true leadership and delivery on your pledge to safeguard green spaces. A lasting way needs to be found of returning “the green triangle” to the historical character that made it such a valued place.”
A spokesperson for SBC said: “The green is in private ownership and the owner has reasserted their wish to maintain it. It isn’t ours to maintain and the owner doesn’t want us to maintain it.
“The ‘certificate of lawful use’ is a bit of a red herring – it only means it can be used for that purpose, not that the owner needs to use it or must allow it to be used that way.”