Jedburgh group fighting plans to axe hall and library

Fears that Jedburgh’s economy will suffer after the opening of the town’s new £32m campus have resulted in the creation of a new group determined to protect town centre services now at threat.

By Kathryn Wylie
Thursday, 27th February 2020, 1:03 pm
Brian Woods at the currenty sporting facilities at Jedburgh Grammar School.
Brian Woods at the currenty sporting facilities at Jedburgh Grammar School.

Scottish Borders Council bosses plan to close both the library in Canongate and the town hall in Abbey Place and instead offer replacement facilities within the new Jedburgh Grammar Campus at Hartrigge Park once it opens this spring.

That move, revealed just months before the intergenerational community campus is due to open, has led to fears that Jedburgh will be left a ghost town.

But it’s the lack of consultation so far that has the community most up in arms.

Jedburgh Community Council vice-chairman John Taylor told its meeting last week: “The closure of the town hall was definitely not discussed at the consultation.

“Scottish Borders Council provided meetings of the minutes of the meeting held in 2017 in the town hall.

“The documents runs to 128 pages and, sad though I might appear, I read it all and it’s a pretty good summary of what was said, and there is no mention whatsoever in 128 pages about that meeting that said anything about the town hall or the library.

“It didn’t comment on them one way or the other. They didn’t imply anything. It was not mentioned. That is the bit that doesn’t sit well with me.

“Since then, there has been no mention, nothing.

“There has been a drop-in session and that was pretty woolly. One of the questions then was who did we want involved in the discussions for consulting, and that’s not happened either.

“That is our argument for saving them both, that the council has not stuck to what it said they would do three years ago.”

Mr Taylor added: “We are not being totally negative. It will be a great thing for the town, but, as a community addition, I don’t think it will be as good as they think.”

What Jedburgh folk think of the plans to relocate town centre services to the new school will be known soon enough, though, as the community council has just collected hundreds of responses to its own questionnaire about them.

Since Scottish Borders Council has conceded that a thorough enough consultation did not take place, it has agreed to work with the newly-created Jedburgh Legacy Group group to gather views.

Rory Stewart, chairman of the town’s community council, said: “Representatives from a variety of community organisations in the town have come together as the Jedburgh Legacy Group in a bid to keep the town hall and library open in the town centre.

“The group met officials and councillors from Scottish Borders Council on February 18.

“From the outset, we declined the proposed agenda set by the council and insisted that the community’s concerns were discussed instead.

“We pointed out we had proof of the council’s failure to consult or even inform the people of Jethart about their decision to close these two community facilities.

“Council officers did not disagree.”

“The group has informed Scottish Borders Council that a report is being compiled on its flawed process and failure to carry out assessments of the plans.”

Aside from the ongoing battle to keep the library and town hall open, further concerns are also coming out of the woodwork as the campus opening nears, with some community groups worried about sports and hall facilities’ booking costs, slots and availability.

Brian Woods, who previously branded the provision of a 300m running track instead of the expected athletics standard-approved 400m facility a disgrace, added: “I have seen the proposed charges for booking the campus facilities, and I applied them to the current school charges, and if I am allowed the same dates, I’ll be looking at £160 to £180 a week.

“There’s no chance. We will run on the grass. We will run somewhere, anywhere, else. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Coupled withconcerns over amenities, the changes are making for a “very unhappy town”, the community council claims.

A public meeting about the potential library and town hall closures takes place in Jedburgh Town Hall on Wednesday, March 18, at 7pm.