Council in controversial banner ban

Bill Jeffrey with the banner which the council took down from its spot at Galashiels' Public Park.
Bill Jeffrey with the banner which the council took down from its spot at Galashiels' Public Park.

A Galashiels music and events promoter says his latest project could be cancelled after what he believes is a vendetta against him by Scottish Borders Council.

Bill Jeffrey, who has masterminded the formation of Galashiels band Mills and organises musical events across the region, says his banners advertising his upcoming events are being taken down by the local authority, which at the same time allows other events to advertise freely.

Bill’s various banners for a concert by singer/songwriter Sandi Thom (of “Wish I Was a Punk Rocker” fame) in Selkirk’s Victoria Halls on May 25 were taken down by Scottish Borders Council, he was warned not to put them back up. Now, after poor ticket sales, Bill is considering cancelling the gig.

He said: “Borderers are by nature slow to buy tickets. We usually sell most in the week running up to the event, with the banners being a handy reminder. But that has been taken out of our hands.”

Bill told us: “The whole thing is soul-destroying. It’s not for my personal gain, it’s just to try to get things going in the Borders.

“I’m not asking for anything other than a level playing field. When I was travelling home last week, I saw banners for Borders Book Festival and Kelso Races, with no sign of them being taken down.”

A council spokesman said it had removed the banners for safety reasons in a Galashiels-only trial.

He said: “The council has received a number of complaints about unauthorised banners in Galashiels in unsafe locations such as road junctions across the town.

“The council has a policy of allowing non-commercial banners to be erected for a short period of time for community events, but not where they create a road safety hazard.

“As a result, a trial has taken place in Galashiels to remove unauthorised banners in unsafe locations. Community event advertising is still allowed in certain safe locations, such as between the Fire Station and bus shelter on Abbotsford Road.”

However, Bill insisted: “There is no way I would put up a banner in an unsafe place and I always keep them clean.

“Any time the council has asked for my help through my contacts for events, I have been there.

“Now, it feels personal. I love the Borders, but the council has made it almost impossible to do anything new here.”