Jim Clark ­Rally venue switch is welcomed by ­Kelso councillors

Pumping £4.5million into the local economy and attracting crews and spectators from home and abroad means the Jim Clark Rally is a vital event.

Just how important it is to the Borders was outlined in a presentation to Kelso Community Council this week by event co-ordinator, Russell Blood.

This year’s events, scheduled to run over the weekend of Friday, May 30, to Sunday, June 1, will feature a number of changes, including one major relocation.

Mr Blood told councillors more about the agreement to use the Border Union’s Springwood Park showground for the rally’s service and technology park on the Friday and Saturday, instead of the local racecourse as has been the norm in recent years. The racecourse, however, will still be used for office facilities.

One of the reasons behind the switch is it will ease pressure on Kelso’s square, where a number of podium finishes have traditionally been held.

Mr Blood told councillors: “We felt it would be unfair to tie up the square on the Saturday, given everything that’s happening in the town at the moment, so the bulk of activity will be transferred to Springwood Park,” he explained.

“The rally itself doesn’t make money – it is a break-even event. Using the showground means we can develop more of a show and expand what spectators and visitors can see,” he said, adding this would be by admission to generate income.

“We’re hoping to include a display of vintage cars, about 40, possibly including 1960s F1 cars as part of that,” he explained.

“The rally is still the biggest and most successful rally in the country and will have 230 competitors over the weekend, as opposed to the 100 or so many of the rest have.

“The rally brings about £4.5million in to the Borders so it’s not small by any means and this move will let us develop it more.

“I think it brings a lot to Kelso.”

Council vice-chairman Dean Weatherston said: “I think given that over that weekend we’ll have three areas of the square under construction, it’s really good things are moving to the showground.”