THE chairman of Galashiels Chamber of Trade (CT) has defended major changes to parking in the town, writes Kenny Paterson.
Eildon Area Forum agreed to the amendments of the Galashiels Traffic Regulation Order following the completion of the latest stage of the town’s inner relief road.
The decision gives the go-ahead for the next phase of the project, which will see parking in the current Cornmill Square make way for a pedestrian area, angering local businesswoman Belinda Nunn of Newlyn Property Developments.
She accused Scottish Borders Council of killing shops in the town centre, but Galashiels CT chair David Houston disagrees.
He told TheSouthern: “There will actually be a net gain of parking spaces in the town, even after Cornmill Square is lost.”
Mr Houston said that while the 11 bays presently in Cornmill Square will disappear, 14 new spaces will be created in Market Street.
And he added that the forum’s decision to approve the extending of waiting times from 30 to 60 minutes in Bank Street, High Street and Market Street, was another positive for retailers in Galashiels.
Mr Houston also praised the change of off-street charges in the town’s short and long-stay car parks.
This move means the cost of someone parking for up to two hours in either of the four short-stay car parks in Galashiels reduces from 80p to 50p, while in its two long-stay parks, drivers can now leave their cars for up to three hours for 50p.
Mr Houston added: “Everyone has been crying out for extended parking hours in Bank Street and Channel Street which we now have, and we have also managed to get a reduction in the parking rates.
“This will benefit the town. More people can now park longer and for less money.”
But writing to the council, Ms Nunn, whose company is based on Market Street, said: “As you know, local people are extremely concerned about the devastation to our once busy and thriving town.
“You [SBC] allowed large supermarkets into the centre [of the town], obviously causing the death of our local small traders etc. You also reduced travel flow through the centre of Galashiels so that all roads lead to Tesco and Asda. Now, you seem determined to go for the kill and close most of our shops due to the above amendments.
“If you take away parking at what I call The Fountain [Cornmill Square] you will stop people parking and popping into the shops there.”
Building firm Murray & Burrell also raised concerns with SBC regarding plans to ban loading on the east side of Market Street between Paton Street and Green Street, stating it would have an impact on the rental value of properties the business has in the area.
A company spokesman wrote: “In the event of decisions being made which damage my company, I would, of course, seek recompense.”