Fed-up Hawick residents say: ‘Let there be light!’

Hawick councillor Davie Paterson with Borthaugh Road resident Bruce Lindsay. Picture by Stuart Cobley.
Hawick councillor Davie Paterson with Borthaugh Road resident Bruce Lindsay. Picture by Stuart Cobley.

Fed-up residents in a Hawick street are being forced to switch their lights on in the morning because overhanging trees are leaving their homes in semi-darkness, it has emerged.

Residents in Borthaugh Road say that fir trees across from their homes are blocking out natural light to their properties.

Now some are demanding their ‘right to light’ and want Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA), which owns a number of the properties in the street, to contribute to their electricity bills as way of compensation.

A spokesman for SBHA said the trees in question are healthy and there were no current plans to carry out any work to them, although residents with safety concerns over individual trees are welcome to get in touch.

Councillor Davie Paterson, independent for Hawick and Hermitage, has taken up the residents’ case.

He said: “I have been approached by several constituents in the Borthaugh Road area who are having to put their lights on early in the morning and early in the afternoon. It’s pitch black in their homes, even on summer mornings.

“One elderly constituent was asking me if Scottish Borders Housing Association would contribute towards their lighting bills, they shouldn’t have to put their lights on when it is a bright summer morning.

“I realise that it was probably a planning condition but I think everyone in the Borthaugh Road area is of the opinion that this has got way out of control. I have written to the housing association asking them if they could please help out my constituents.”

Resident Bruce Lindsay, who has lived in the street for 35 years, described the situation as a “nightmare”.

He added: “The fir trees were here when we moved in but recently they have grown so big that it has become a nightmare.

“It seems they provide a screen for the private behind them but they block out the light to our homes.

“We don’t get any sunshine and we can’t open our windows because the flies and beasties get in. They have never been cut or maintained.

“We’re not asking they are chopped down, just cut back to allow us some light in our homes.

“One of the problems is identifying who has responsibility for maintaining the trees. There are a number of housing association properties in the street and others, like our own, who have bought their homes under Maggie Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ policy. We just seem to go from pillar to post.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Housing Association said: “SBHA recently completed a survey of all 3,000 trees on our land across the Borders and these have been tagged and numbered.

“This resulted in two tender packages being put in place for works on around 200 trees.

“The first of these was for trees which required urgent works to be carried out on them, and a second package was for non-urgent works. Works on both of these packages have now been completed.

“SBHA has invested a significant proportion of this year’s budget in this tree survey and subsequent work packages, and going forward, SBHA will manage its trees on a cyclical basis to ensure all are safe and not causing damage to any infrastructure.

“Currently there are no plans to carry out any works on the trees at Borthaugh Road, which have been assessed and are healthy, but if SBHA tenants are concerned about a tree for reasons of safety, each one has a tag number and if they report their concern to us along with the tag number, we will take appropriate action to resolve the situation.”