Jedburgh pensioners hit out at neglect of garden

Nessie Ruel, 91, and Janet Barrie, 79, outside theirs homes in Richmond Row to protest about the lack of grass cutting.
Nessie Ruel, 91, and Janet Barrie, 79, outside theirs homes in Richmond Row to protest about the lack of grass cutting.

Frustrated Jedburgh pensioners claim their communal lawns have not been cut for almost a year and are demanding action now.

Residents of Richmond Row, a block of 11 flats next to the River Jed, claim areas of grass there have been ignored by Scottish Borders Council since last August.

Richmond Row's unkept grass.

Richmond Row's unkept grass.

They say the Scottish Borders Housing Association complex, occupied solely by pensioners, used to be well maintained by the council, with help from some residents, but hasn’t been touched this year.

Jean McLeary, 71, and her husband Jim, also 71, have lived in Richmond Row for almost three years.

“It’s an utter disgrace,” Jean said. “It’s not been touched this year at all.

“Some of the residents can’t get out and about at all, and they are stuck inside looking out onto an eyesore.

“They used to enjoy views across the river and right up town, and now it’s just overgrown grass.

“It’s like they think we’re just pensioners so why bother?”

So desperate are the residents that two of the oldest among them, 91-year-old Nessie Ruel and 79-year-old Janet Barrie posed for photographs with a borrowed grass cutters in a bid to “shame the council into action”.

“The strange thing is that the council has come and cut the bit by the flood gates twice this year already, but nothing past that point,” Jean added.

“We are all pensioners. They can’t expect us to be out there cutting it.

“We moved to these flats because we are not able to keep a garden.”

The residents also complain that the only time the grass is guaranteed a cut is in July when the horses cross the water there during the Jethart Callant’s Festival.

Last year, the bankings were cut every four to six weeks up until August, after which time they’ve been abandoned.

Late resident Peter ‘Pedro’ Taylor also tended the gardens there until his death two years ago.

Another resident Sandra Bera, 66, who has lived there for five years, said it’s the worst it has ever been.

“I was living in a cage practically. I just managed to get a tree cut down to let some light in,” she said. “It’s a tip. It’s Jurassic out there.

“I used to help Pedro keep it tidy and would weed kill out the front. You want to keep where you live tidy, but we shouldn’t be needing to do it ourselves.”

While the flats are owned by the social landlord, the land is the responsibility of the council.

Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton says there might be some confusion over where responsibility for the gardens lies.

“I’m not sure why is has not been cut this year. It’s not been taken out of any grass-cutting routine,” he said.

“The only way to solve this is to have a site meeting with neighbourhood foreman Alistair Finnie and establish who is responsible for what.

“There is also an area there which Pedro looked after, and since he passed away that has been left.

“I appreciate the residents’ concerns and we will get something on paper about how to go forward with this.”