A feasibility study is to be carried out on whether a permanent travellers site could be established at Galafoot

Scottish Borders Council has identified a new potential site for travelling people in Galashiels.

By Paul Kelly
Friday, 10th December 2021, 10:48 am
Travellers site at Victoria Park in Selkirk.
Travellers site at Victoria Park in Selkirk.

Members of the full council will next week be asked to support the launch of a full feasibility study regarding the suitability of land at Galafoot Lane in Galafoot, Galashiels as a long-term option for a permanent travellers site.

The move comes amid unrest in Selkirk over the travellers site established at Victoria Park after the first lockdown last year.

Locals claimed the site was a mess and that its presence led to the town was losing out on potential staycationers.

Victoria Park is still seen as the best short-term option for travellers but In August this year the families there left and established unauthorised encampments in a number of Borders locations, including the car park opposite council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells, Galafoot in Galashiels and various sites on an industrial estate in Selkirk.

Now the report recommends the “scoping of Etterick Mill, Selkirk as an

alternative site that may be more suitable in the short to medium term and allow for Victoria Park to be returned to a commercial site as early as possible next year”.

Meanwhile, there is also provision for travelling people in a specific area at Tweedside Caravan Park at Innerleithen

But longer term Galafoot Lane has been identified as a possible solution – although due to suspected contamination of the land it could take years to make it safe enough to move on to.

The reports adds: “Galafoot, Galashiels has been identified as a potential suitable location due to its central location, impact upon the wider community and access to

amenities and services that could be provided.

“The Galafoot site itself was previously used for industrial purposes (former

gasworks) and at present is not suitable for residential occupation.

"This site would require significant investigation into the suspected contamination and

an indicative cost of rectifying the contamination issue has been estimated at approximately £400,000 - £500,000.

“The timescale for this action would mean that there would likely be a significant period of time before this site could be made suitable as a permanent site for gypsy/ traveller families. Current estimates indicate potential years before this would be achievable.”