Councillor hits out at repair delays

Scottish Borders Council has been criticised for its ‘laxity’ and ‘inertia’ after it emerged that a further compulsory purchase order will be required before work can be carried out on a decaying Walkerburn landmark, write Adam Drummond.

The comments came from Conservative councillor for Tweeddale East Gavin Logan, after he requested an update on a compulsory purchase order (CPO) agreed by the council in November 2011 on Sunnybrae Lodge (pictured top).

Responding to Mr Logan’s query, council leader David Parker stated: “Officers from economic development and environment and legal and democratic services have been working to prepare the required Statement of Reasons and the project plan required to implement the repair of the building.

“This work has been delayed and officers have not made the progress that was expected.

“Following this additional project planning work, it has now become apparent that we need to revise the area of land that is to be compulsorily purchased in order to more effectively protect the setting of the listed building and to ensure the practical and safe implementation of the repair work required.

Mr Parker added: “Officers will bring a report to council in September 2012 seeking approval for the revised area to be compulsorily purchased.”

Following the response to his query, Mr Logan said: “It is unfortunate that I received such an unsatisfactory answer to my question at last week’s council meeting.

“In fact the executive approved the CPO for Sunnybrae Lodge at a meeting in June 2010, more than 26 months ago. There has been no progress in restoring this important A-listed building.

“Anything that is not seen as a priority is left to more or less its own devices. There is inertia and laxity in this council that does none of us any credit.”

However, Mr Logan praised his fellow ward councillors, Councillor Graham Garvie and Councillor Stuart Bell, and local woman Mollie McIntosh, who has lived in the lodge house opposite for almost 50 years and has campaigned for its refurbishment for many years.

Mr Logan said: “I am glad that my two ward colleagues are as keen as I am to get rid of this eyesore that blights Walkerburn. Mollie McIntosh has been pushing hard for the last 10 years and none of us are going to give up now.”

Concerns about the decaying building have been expressed by local people for over a decade now, and the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland has its risk status as ‘critical’.

Mollie McIntosh told TheSouthern: “It is in a shocking state, and it has been for several years now.

“It is ridiculous the length of time it has just been lying there.

It is a mess, a tip. It is overgrown, there are broken windows, windows boarded up. It is a complete eyesore.”