Kelso insurance firm hoping to switch offices

The former Liba shop in Bridge Street, Kelso.
The former Liba shop in Bridge Street, Kelso.

An insurance company wants to switch premises in Kelso because its staff don’t like being left in the dark on winter evenings.

Border Insurance Brokers has been operating in Kelso town centre for the past 35 years, and its five staff have been based in Oven Wynd for the last year.

Border Insurance Brokers in Oven Wynd, Kelso.

Border Insurance Brokers in Oven Wynd, Kelso.

However, customers are said to find the location, near Ednam House Hotel, remote from the centre of town and difficult to access.

Additionally, its staff regard the street as “threatening on dark winter evenings”, and those concerns have been raised with the police.

As a result, the company has now submitted a planning application to relocate to 23 to 25 Bridge Street in Kelso, units that occupied by ladieswear shop Liba until a year ago.

That bid is not in line with Scottish Borders Council’s policy of retaining retail premises in town centres, but in a report to planners a spokesperson for Eyemouth’s Bain Swan Architects, on behalf of the applicant, argues that there are already several empty retail units in the town and that occupancy of a vacant shop would generate footfall.

Its report says: “Their customers find the current location difficult to find, the business has little projection to the public realm and their staff find the location uncomfortable and sometimes threatening on dark winter evenings.

“These safety concerns are known to the police.”

The spokesperson adds: “There are ongoing economic advantages in having the firm contributing to the Kelso business community as an insurance intermediary creating, with others, a mini-financial services hub in a diverse town centre.

“While recognising that the proposal, in so far that it represents a change of use from a retail shop to financial retail insurance, probably falls foul of the council’s town centre policy, the applicant would strongly argue that it would be reasonable to make an exception in this case.”

The firm would employ six people at the new premises, one more than its current complement.

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