Luxury hotel rights of way access rumpus
A luxury Borders hotel has fallen foul of angry locals over claims that rights of way in place for more than a century have been blocked off.
Schloss Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course at Heiton in Kelso, which begins to welcome guests back tomorrow, Thursday, July 30, is embroiled in a row with some neighbours over access rights.
The hotel denies that the areas highlighted are rights of way and that the action taken was to protect the hotel’s golf course from people misusing it.
The 20-bedroom hotel’s general manager Harry Fernandes said he welcomed visitors accessing its grounds and said the matter had been “blown out of proportion”.
It’s not a view shared by a number of members of the community in Heiton, a significant number of whom have raised concerns with Heiton and Roxburghe Community Council over access rights which maps suggest date back to 1863.
Community council vice chair Gill Harrop responded to those concerns by organising a meeting with hotel officials.
Unfortunately, the meeting came to nothing and now the matter is in the hands of the legal team at Scottish Borders Council.
Gill said: “At the beginning of June I received a number of complaints, since then I’ve received considerably more complaints about the the right of way that had been at the viaduct, ie a stile, where there is now barbed wire, there is also another right of way where a gate has been open and now has been closed and padlocked and the entry where the Scottish Water substation is for Bowmont Court, which has always been gated but which is now padlocked.
“Clearly the concern is that the right of way that has long been there is no longer there.”
Gill added: “The matter is now in the hands of the legal department at Scottish Borders Council because the hotel refuse to re-instate the stile, they refuse to unlock the gates. We had a meeting with the hotel and the golf club manager and it came to nothing and that’s where we are.
“The hotel is refusing to reinstate the rights of way and it has got to the point now that John Lamont is involved, Rachael Hamilton is involved and it is with the legal department at SBC.”
Mr Fernandes, said: “We have had conversations with Scottish Borders Council and also Heiton community representatives here and we have explained that the right to access the resort grounds is remains open and that there is no issue accessing and we want everyone to come in an enjoy what we have here.
“What they are referring to as rights of way are actually not rights of way and we have discussed and explained that we are an open resort to both visitors and locals.
“The whole thing has been blown out of proportion. There are certain areas that are on two golf greens that give us trouble because people misuse them and it takes a huge amount of money and effort to rectify them and that’s why we decided to take some action.
“The problem is that not everyone is golf-aware. A golf course is a prepared playing field, it’s not a park, and there is a certain way to behave. We had a lot of trouble so we decided to take some action.
“We are doing a lot of work here, adding employment to the local area with the addition of more rooms and cottages and a spa, and we have a lot of people coming from all over Scotland and England and abroad that bring a lot of business to the community.
“There is no issue with anyone walking in here, they are very welcome. Unfortunately, or fortunately, for the last four and a half months I’ve had to stay within the building because of closure and I see every evening 30 or 40 people walking through and it is no issue at all.”