Group secretary quits over doubts about Kelso one-way system plan

THE secretary of a consultation group on Kelso’s one-way system has resigned, writes Sally Gillespie.

Georgiana Dunne has pulled out of the ad hoc body that represents commercial and community life in the town and gives its views to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) on the traffic management reform.

In an email to members, she says: “The group has not managed to convince me that the one-way system is a worthwhile plan and looking at the events of the past few days [earlier this month] where citizens are denied access to grit, their roads have not been cleared from snow, rubbish has not been collected and where employees of SBC are made redundant because of a ‘cash-strapped council’, I really cannot support and justify such an expenditure that I still see as not necessary, especially under the present climate.

“As grumbling, unhappiness and frustration are growing, I prefer to be able to hold my head high and not have to convince anybody that it is a good plan.”

With more than 20 members, the stakeholders group includes representatives of traders, disability groups, the police, community council, taxi firms, bus companies and Kelso High School pupils.

It was set up a year ago after a traffic study showed that three out of 10 cars using the town centre did not stop there and were effectively using it as a rat-run alternative to the bypass.

Secretary from the start, Ms Dunne told TheSouthern: “Probably because I have lived in London and in Rome, I don’t think that Kelso needs a one-way system. A one-way system is going over the top.”

Instead, the students association administrator argues that the town needs to make adjustments, including moving some of its bus stops and setting up good crossings.

Ms Dunne, who is also secretary of the Kelso Chamber of Trade, says she understands that the money for the scheme has already been allocated.

“There is nothing we can do about it but I don’t want as a human being to be part of it: there should be other priorities – people shouldn’t be being made redundant and we could have employed farmers to clear the pavements [of the recent snow]. I want to have a clear conscience. I want to say I don’t approve of this. I didn’t want to have to try to explain it to people.

“This is my own personal point of view. The people in the group are just trying to do what is best for the town.”

Improvements to Rose Lane have been held up because of the weather but the six-month trial – with Horsemarket one way towards the town centre and Woodmarket one way in the opposite direction – is set to go ahead when they are completed.

SBC says the aim of the one-way system scheme is to simplify traffic movement. Other improvements will include crossing points, wider pavements, more on-street parking and better disabled and public transport facilities.

“It is proposed to trial the one-way element of the scheme for a six-month period which will allow a full assessment of traffic, pedestrian and parking aspects to take place,” said the council. “If the feed-back from the community and stakeholder groups is positive, the scheme will be permanently implemented.”