SUPPORT for a Selkirk bypass from Scottish Borders Council will be sought today, writes Kenny Paterson.
Selkirkshire Liberal Democrat councillor Vicky Davidson will ask her colleagues at Newtown St Boswells to back her motion, calling on the Scottish Government to review the case on grounds of public safety and wellbeing.
It follows a study by the Holyrood administration that claimed accident rates would not be significantly reduced by building a new section of the A7 around the royal burgh, estimated to cost £39million.
Ms Davidson was joined by around 50 supporters last Sunday on a walk she organised along the potential route of the bypass, which, if introduced, would hope to see an end to articulated lorries travelling through the town centre.
Among the party who walked the route was John Lamont, MSP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk. The Conservative Party member said: “I was pleased to have the opportunity to walk the actual route of the proposed bypass and see exactly what impact it would have if it were to be built.
“The A7 is a major trunk road and to have it passing right through the heart of Selkirk is posing a threat to the safety of residents and visitors. It is clear that the current traffic levels in the town are unacceptable and this route would be a huge help in taking that heavy traffic away from the town centre.”
Mr Lamont added: “There was great support from the local community at the walk and shows that this project is obviously important to them.
“There is a growing consensus that this bypass must be built and it is now time that we see action taken by the SNP to ensure the safety of those living in and visiting Selkirk.”
Speaking ahead of the walk, Ms Davidson told us: “We want to up the ante and let the Scottish Government know just how important this project is to Selkirk which, like Lauder, is the only Borders town which has a trunk road passing through it’s centre and no alternative route for heavy traffic.”
Ms Davidson’s council election rival Michelle Ballantyne, who will represent the Conservatives in the Selkirkshire ward, added: “I, like many other Selkirk residents, was hugely disappointed at the SNP’s decision not to support the building of this bypass. It is vital that we ensure the safety of our town centre and I hope the SNP will finally take notice after this huge show of support in favour of the project.”
For his part, Selkirkshire’s SNP councillor Kenneth Gunn, who also took part in Sunday’s walk, said he remained committed to the project and will ask Scottish infrastructure and investment minister Alex Neil to meet him in the town “to see for himself what we have to suffer in Selkirk”.