Local democracy was railroaded

I am sometimes asked how I account for the 17,000 who petitioned for the return of the railway.

Simple – many of them feel badly let down by politicians who have hijacked the real Waverley Line and instead promoted a commuter service directly related to the construction of 13,700 houses in the Borders. It is little wonder that several who signed the railway petition went on to become founding members of the Borders Party.

The parliamentary process made it impossible to object unless you could prove you would be directly affected by the project (having the end of your garden chopped off, for instance).

Those concerned about how the project would irreversibly change the way the Borders develops were simply not heard. And councillors of all the national parties have never spoken up, still spinelessly refusing to acknowledge majority opposition to the railway. This insult to local democracy is one of the reasons the Borders Party was started.

Our recent poll at the shows was fun, and far from exact science, but its consistency should not be ignored.

In 2008, Chris Harvie MSP, of the Campaign for Borders Rail, challenged me to a public debate – and his pro-railway motion was defeated by 206 votes to 67. Had Chris forgotten to tell his friends about the debate, or did they fail to see it advertised in all the local press, on Radio Borders, the BBC and Border telly?

I wonder what argument will be used to dismiss the 47 comments on the railway thrown up by Scottish Borders Council’s latest household survey – seven in favour of the project and 40 opposed? I know some decent people who want the railway – but many, many more who don’t. That’s why I won’t shut up.

Nicholas Watson

(leader, the Borders Party)

Having read the latest letters printed in TheSouthern about the Borders railway or upgrading the A7, the one thing that I have still not seen from the anti-rail Borders Party or those who advocate upgrading the A7 is how they would do it.

I am a regular user – daily – of the A7 and the slowest parts of the road are round series of bends. To straighten these bends out would mean having to bridge areas that regularly flood or entail large amounts of earthwork to make level ground. If somebody from the Borders Party or anti-rail lobby could explain how they would upgrade the road it would be appreciated. We could then see the validity of their argument on that point.

What would also help is if lorry drivers, primarily those from the large supermarket chains, used their wing mirrors. More than once have I and many others been in tailbacks of more than half-a-mile for miles at a time, despite there being places to pull in and let faster drivers past (I do realise that 40mph is their national speed limit on the A7).

Would I use the railway? Yes I would.

Richard Romeril


Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker well knows that there is a finite tax take available for public expenditure.

The task of politicians is to spend public money wisely. Their track record, alas, is poor.

First, we had the Scottish Parliament with its Chinese granite, Spanish architect and weird ramshackle construction – grossly over budget. Then we had the Edinburgh tram project – a disaster from start to finish and grossly over budget. Thirdly, and costed at “only” £400million, restoring the Galashiels-Millerhill single track is forging ahead in this age of austerity. Unbelievable.

Does anyone seriously believe that it will not also be grossly over budget if ever completed? The overwhelming majority of Borderers would prefer the money spent on bringing the 100-mile rumble strip that is the A68 and the 80-mile series of bends called the A7 up to modern standards.

The Borders Party is in tune with public sentiment on this matter .

William Loneskie


Enjoyed your article in theSouthern last week – but why oh why did you choose to illustrate it with a photograph of the Scotrail Class 170 that came off the rails in Princes Street Gardens last month?

The points you highlight in your article illustrate just how important the railway will be for the Borders.

The fact that a proper bus/rail interchange is being planned for Galashiels indicates the way forward. To those who call for an improved A7, I would ask where have they been since 1969 when such improvements were promised after the closure of the route. They didn’t really happen then and it is hard to see it happening now.

Please, Borderers, hold your nerve and see the project through to completion. It will bring benefits to the Borders – why does the Borders Party wish to deny its constituents the benefits enjoyed by those in other parts of Scotland like Alloa.

Bill Berridge



Councillor David Parker predicts that the train leaving Edinburgh Waverley for the Borders will be extremely popular with tourists (Southern, August 25).

He is wrong. Look closely at the photograph that accompanies his prediction. The train has, in fact, derailed.

Neil Dickson