Planning bids on their own doorstep out of bounds to Kelso councillors

FEARS have been voiced over a bizarre situation that has emerged involving town boundaries at Kelso.

It was at last week’s meeting of Kelso Community Council that local Scottish Borders councillor Tom Weatherston brought up the issue of what might happen after the town gets its new secondary school.

Mr Weatherston told councillors he suspected that if a plan for land next to the racecourse to be used as the site for the new school was successful, other developers would turn their attention elsewhere.

“There won’t be much land left for development in the town if the land near the racecourse does get used for the new school,” he said.

“I think developers will then start looking at the fields along the Jedburgh road,” he said.

He explained that a problem would arise if an application for development on this land was to be lodged with Scottish Borders Council, as the ground was actually classed as being part of the Jedburgh local authority ward.

This means any future planning applications would be notified to Jedburgh councillors and not those of Kelso, despite Jedburgh being 10 miles away from the land in question.

“I would suggest seeking to have the boundary moved to Heiton,” Mr Weatherston told the meeting.

“This would only see the loss of around 20 voters to Jedburgh and I think it is vital that we get that boundary moved.”

Asked to explain further, Mr Weatherston told TheSouthern: “The fields from the Yetholm road on the edge of the town towards Jedburgh are all in the Jedburgh local authority ward – despite the fact some of this land is actually within the Kelso town boundary and speed limits. There is no doubt, as land is in short supply around Kelso, that developers will be looking to develop something in these fields in the near future, and this area was identified as a possible site for the new high school, albeit not the preferred site. It would be silly if any development in these fields went to Jedburgh councillors and Jedburgh Community Council for opinions and feedback and not Kelso.

“I appreciate that for voting purposes Jedburgh had to widen its net to get the 8,000 voters needed, but the boundary could have been just outside Heiton – it did not need to come into Kelso and an adjustment would only mean the loss of a handful of voters.

“Only recently there was an application on the Yetholm road at Proctor Smiddy and that application went to Jedburgh Community Council and Kelso knew nothing about it, although it was on our doorstep.

“Kelso Community Council and Jedburgh Community Council have an excellent working relationship and I have no doubt they would both agree the current situation is silly and a boundary move a few hundred yards up the road would make little or no difference at elections.”

Mr Weatherston’s fellow local Scottish Borders councillor, Alec Nicol, said there were currently no planning applications lodged for the fields being referred to.

However, Kelso community councillors agreed to write to the Boundary Commission, expressing its “grave concerns” and requesting a boundary change.