Final touches to Selkirk flood scheme on the way, Souters told

Selkirk's flood defences being officially unveiled in February 2017.'Selkirk FPS project manager Conor Price, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham and SBC leader Councillor David Parker on the Bridge Street footbridge.
Selkirk's flood defences being officially unveiled in February 2017.'Selkirk FPS project manager Conor Price, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham and SBC leader Councillor David Parker on the Bridge Street footbridge.

The man in charge of Selkirk’s £31.4m flood protection scheme has vowed it will be completed in its entirety by next spring.

That vow comes after questions were raised over the finishing touches still required, such as the reinstatement of benches and the final public artwork being put in place, despite the Ettrick Water’s flood defences having been completed in February 2017.

Project manager Conor Price told Selkirk Community Council this week that the project is still in a wind-down stage.

“It is 100% ready and has passed its bill of health for the year,” he said. “We continue to have a budget and we continue to spend it as we wind the project down.

“It is fully ready for winter. There were two occasions in 2018 when it functioned along the Long Philip Burn – the first in late January when there was heavy rain and melting snow, the second in June when it rained unbelievably as we opened Svetlana Kondakova’s artwork.

“On both these occasions, the water would have been over the bank were it not for the scheme.

“From that perspective, I am delighted with the scheme.

“We are entering the third winter of functionality, and it is doing its job.”

He assured the council that the benches taken away to be renovated are still sitting safely in storage.

“They will be back in place for the spring, but first we need to check what is what and where we are going to put stuff,” said Mr Price.

“I would like to present the proposals to you shortly.”

Plans are also in place to reposition the footprint monument on the riverside walk as it was wrongly reinstalled, 90 degrees counterclockwise to its original placement, by flood scheme workers last spring.

“I recognise that the footprints are not properly assigned to the site now,” Mr Price said. “They were taken up and put back in the right frame, but the orientation was changed so they just don’t work any more.”

Built in 1999, to mark the millennium, the monument shows the imprints of the feet of prominent Souters including sports stars Bobby Johnstone, plus Andrew Heatlie and Edith Scott.

Mr Price says the council’s graphic department will create a replacement sign within the next fortnight, with the central image repositioned so the whole tribute will make sense again.

“It will be placed right beside them again,” he added.

As part of the scheme’s legacy, it is funding three pieces of community artwork along the riverside, too.

Svetlana Kondakova’s mosaic mural in Riverside Road and a statue tribute to Black Bob are both in place, but the third project, Spinning Point, a wooden sculpture to be constructed near the Bannerfield Arches, is making slow progress.

The artwork-cum-play equipment is due to be built during a workshop with children at a local after-school club.

“It’s still being pushed forwards, but they set themselves a steep challenge so we have conceded them a little more time,” said Mr Price.

That progress was welcomed by community councillor Judith Thompson, who said: “The scheme has functioned on six occasions since it was built, including two this year. It has certainly proved itself.”