‘Mystery fence’ put up at Selkirk rugby pitch shouldn't be there, says councillor

The ongoing issue of gypsy travellers in Selkirk took a mysterious turn this week after the appearance of a fence blocking the travellers off from the rest of Victoria Park.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 4:24 pm
The fence which separates the gypsy travellers site from the Selkirk Youth Club rugby pitch.

At the town’s community council meeting on Monday evening, held virtually through the Zoom application, Alan Wheelans, the Covid co-ordinator for Selkirk Youth Club, who play their games on the pitch, gave an update on how the team were preparing for the restart of play after lockdown.

Previously, there had been reports of cars cutting up the pitch, but on Monday, Mr Wheelans said the pitch was now in decent order, thanks to a fence which had been installed at the site.

He said: “I have been having to-and-fro correspondance with James Purvis, the council’s community liason officer.

"We have had some issues down at the swimming pool [next to the pitch] and I basically said enough was enough.

"The Youth Club did suffer some vandalism, whether it was intentional or accidental, where windows were broken at the pavilion.

"He was appreciative that we have to reclaim the grassland area, as we need to get our young people back as the weather is improving.

"I made the suggestion of putting a fence up, for the travellers’ sake as much as ours, as a bounced rugby ball can go anywhere and the boys like to kick balls.

"I walked the pitch this evening, and the pitch does look good, and it was good to see a fence up.

"We are looking forward to restarting training on the pitch, the boys are keen.”

However, councillor Gordon Edgar said the fence should not be there.

Councillor Caroline Cochrane said: “I’m pleased to see the fence is up and the boys can get a bit of training again, and we can get a bit of normality.”

But Councillor Gordon Edgar said the fence should not be there at all.

He said: “Who put the fence up and on whose authority?"

Mr Wheelans said it was after he had spoked to Mr Purvis.

Councillor Edgar said: “Well, I have spoken with Mr Purvis and he says he knew nothing about a fence going up. I’m trying to investigate through the council so it’s still under investigation.

"It’s common land and you are not allowed to fence it off without permission.

"You say it’s for the protection of the caravans, but then why was there not a fence when there were normal caravans on the grass.

"It seems unnecessary, but it’s under investigation.”

Mr Wheelans said: “I can only report back the conversation I had with Mr Purvis, and there was another individual there from Live Borders who was a witness.

"I certainly have no access to putting up fencing. He said he would organise that, as well as sorting the grass.”

Community councillor David Deacon said: “I was about to congratulate the Scottish Government and SBC on being able to move forward, but it doesn’t look like that's happened as the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, by the looks of things.

"I all looked a bit positive, but I hope it all gets sorted out soon and we can go down and support the team.”