Disappointment as Jedburgh’s new running track set to come up short

An apparent decision to knock 100 metres off Jedburgh’s new running track has been branded a disgrace by disappointed townsfolk.

By Kathryn Wylie
Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 12:22 pm
Jed Athletics members with coach Chico Woods at the running track at Jedburgh sports centre.
Jed Athletics members with coach Chico Woods at the running track at Jedburgh sports centre.

Youngsters hoping to get on their marks on a six-lane 400m competition-accredited track will be left disappointed as Scottish Borders Council this week confirmed it will be just 300m long.

Until now, townsfolk had thought that after the opening of the new £32m Jedburgh Grammar Campus at Hartrigge Park in April, they would have access to a 400m track at nearby playing fields off Lothian Road.

That track will instead be 300m and will surround rugby and hockey pitches there, it has now been confirmed.

Sign up to our daily The Southern Reporter Today newsletter

And although that’s still 200m longer than the existing synthetic track at the sports centre, that news has not gone down well with townsfolk.

Community councillor John Taylor told the committee’s latest meeting: “In an email in May, we were being promised a six-lane 400m running track, just like what Donna Manson sat here and told us we’d be getting last year.

“We are now trying to find out what the shorter track’s limitations will be. Some recorded times are not accepted because they’re not run on a proper 400m track.

“We did make a suggestion that there’s a play park at those pitches, and if that was taken away, we could get close to 400m. We asked what they’re going to do with the Howdenburn school site and it’ll probably be houses, so why not put in a developer’s condition that they provide a new playpark.

“We want them to explain to us why it was not an option.

“We are trying to help provide the facilities that were promised to us. It all comes back to poor communication.”

His counterpart Chico Woods, a running coach, said: “This decision was made long before we heard of it. There had been no consultation, communication or discussion.

“It’s a disgrace, especially when we, as members of this community council, have attended every single meeting to help make the new school a success.

“In every bit of correspondence, it was a 400m track. Suddenly, it’s 300m without any discussion over the change.

“John’s suggestion, I thought, was great as it gives us an option to have a proper track for inter-school and open competitions.

“We are constantly having to guess what is happening.”

A Scottish Borders Council spokesman, however, says the new campus will have “some of the best community sports facilities in the Borders”.

He added: “The council examined the possibility of including a 400m grass running track on campus at the design phase but the cost was prohibitive.

“Work is currently underway to create a 300m grass track on land close to the campus. Due to constraints at this site, 300m is the maximum length the track could be.”

“However, after discussions with the grammar school, we believe it will meet the requirements for use by their summer athletics programme, and be of use to local athletics groups.

“The costs are part of the overall budget for the Jedburgh Grammar Campus, which remains on schedule to open in spring 2020.”