Rally pledge as axe falls

Jim Clark Rally organisers say a 2015 event will go ahead in some format, amidst fears that a cancellation would wipe £3.5million from the economy.

The pledge came this week, just days after Scottish Borders Council announced that the 2015 rally would not take place in the spring.

Friday’s statement by SBC said the ongoing investigation into the deaths of three people at this year’s rally meant there could be no planning for an event next May.

SBC chief executive, Tracey Logan, said the decision to cancel followed long discussions with Police Scotland, among others.

And Superintendent Angus MacInnes said Police Scotland supported the council’s cancellation decision as the only sensible course of action.

But that sparked a huge backlash from rally enthusiasts, politicians, councillors and beyond, with many worried about the potential damage facing the region’s economy, which benefits to the tune of £3.5million annually from the world-famous four-day event.

A Facebook group, Jim Clark Rally 2015 Must Go Ahead, received more than 5,000 ‘likes’, some from as far away as Australia, within hours of being set up.

In the Scottish Parliament, local MSP John Lamont questioned whether there had been enough consultation over the cancellation decision and claimed rally organisers had faced difficulties arranging meetings with SBC and Police Scotland.

“This event is huge for the economy in Berwickshire and the Borders. Businesses would undoubtedly lose out as a result,” he said.

Borders MP Michael Moore also expressed his concerns, saying Friday’s announcement had “ taken everyone by surprise”.

Current Scottish Rally champion, Duns driver Euan Thorburn, said it would be a great shame to lose next year’s event: “Obviously it comes through tragic circumstances, but it was an accident.

“This would be a big loss for everybody in the region, because it’s one of the best events of its kind.”

But just days later rally organisers issued a “statement of intent”, confirming they will plan a rally for the weekend of May 30 and 31, although the format is undecided.

“The huge team of volunteers behind the organisation of this event have been greatly encouraged by the amount of public support, both locally and nationally, that they have received for the event to continue,” said organisers.

Responding to the pledge, welcomed by Scottish rallying organisations, SBC said it would need to hear organisers’ proposals before considering whether these were possible.