Traders hit out at traffic delays

Traffic jams in Selkirk's town centre.
Traffic jams in Selkirk's town centre.

Traders have hit out at traffic hold-ups hitting Selkirk town centre due to work being carried out on a hotel there.

The disruption began last week after scaffolding was put up outside the Fleece Hotel in Market Place, and temporary traffic lights were also installed on the A7 at the town centre’s zebra crossing.

Since then, there have been long traffic delays, with tailbacks extending along High Street and around the corner into Tower Street.

The traffic lights are needed to allow extensive renovation works to be carried out on the 19th century hotel, including a new entrance being installed in Market Place.

The current entrance is at the side of the building via a narrow pavement in Ettrick Terrace, previously a cause for safety concerns itself.

Tracey Ward, the hotel’s owner, has warned that the work could last for as long as 10 weeks, and that is a cause for concern for town centre traders.

The week the traffic lights went up News Plus owner Brian Rodgerson, 60, claims to have lost around 150 customers .

He said: “It’s a job they have to do, but I fear it overruns. It has to be done on schedule as I rely on a lot of through trade in the morning.

“There are cones in place of the parking outside my shop, which is affecting my livelihood.”

He also said that he feared that if the work is not complete by the start of this year’s Selkirk Common Riding on Monday, June 12, that the road might have to be shut.

George Emond, 55, a butcher at Halliwell’s in Market Place, echoed those concerns, saying: “It’s having a really bad effect on businesses as the square is now empty.”

Down to Earth Foods owner Andrew Beatt, 46, added: “It is adding to problems we already have with parking in the town.”

He also suggested that the implementation of a one-way system along High Street would be beneficial.

Fleece Hotel co-owner Trevor Ward promised that the disruption now would be worth it in the end, however, saying: “It’s something that’s desperately needed in the town.

“Putting a little bit of work in now will have a much longer benefit for the town.”

Scottish Borders Council estimates that the work will be completed within six to eight weeks, well before the 2017 common riding gets under way.

A spokesperson for the council said: “A meeting was held with Amey, ourselves and the contractors carrying out the works to see how traffic could be best managed while the works at the Fleece Hotel took place.

“It was agreed that the safest approach would be to install the four-way temporary traffic lights.”