IT recently won notoriety by being identified as the least safe place in the Borders, writes Andrew Keddie.
But now convicted offenders will soon be working to change the image of the Black Path, which stretches two miles from Galashiels to Tweedbank, alongside the route of the old railway line.
In a recent survey by Scottish Borders Council (SBC), the walkway, particularly as it passes north of Tweedbank, topped the poll of places people did not feel safe in – specially at night.
This fear of crime prompted a small group from the safer communities team, run jointly by the police and the council, along with officials from the parks department and SB Local, to make an assessment of the route.
Improvements are about to get under way in a collaboration with representatives of the Borders railway project who require work to be carried out in advance of construction of the rail line which will terminate at Tweedbank.
This work, which includes removing and cutting back shrubbery and trees and repairing lamp posts, is being undertaken in conjunction with SBC’s criminal justice team which is enlisting the labour of people who have been given community service orders at court.
The aim of the joint work is to clear the path and make maximum use of street lighting, creating a greater sense of security for those who walk or cycle there.
Councillor Alec Nicol, chairman of the Community Safety Forum, said: “This is a good example of joint working across the council and community and shows we do listen to what people tell us.
“We also intend the work to be as cost-effective as possible and are exploring opportunities to use people on community service orders, along with contractors preparing for the development of the rail line.”
Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson, safer communities manager, added: “The survey findings were a real eye-opener into people’s fear of crime and I’m pleased this joint work is addressing these concerns.
“It also demonstrates how the work of offenders, in paying back the community, can deliver positive results.”