New urgent calls for Selkirk bypass​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ as campaigner is knocked over by lorry

New and urgent calls for a Selkirk bypass are being made after a leading campaigner on the issue was knocked over by an articulated lorry as he walked on a pavement in the town centre last week.

Retired doctor Lindsay Neil, a prominent campaigner for a bypass through Selkirk, was knocked over on Friday as he walked on a pavement in the town centre.
Retired doctor Lindsay Neil, a prominent campaigner for a bypass through Selkirk, was knocked over on Friday as he walked on a pavement in the town centre.

Dr Lindsay Neil, fresh from publishing his book on how Souters successfully campaigned to reclaim salmon fishing rights in the Ettrick River, is a leading voice in the bid to get a new bypass built as soon as possible, which would take the majority of large vehicles out of a town centre that is no longer fit for that purpose.

Last week, that fight came closer to home than the retired doctor would have wished, as he was sent flying after being hit by the back end of a heavy goods vehicle as he walked on a pavement in the town’s Market Place.

Thankfully, Dr Neil says he was lucky to only suffer minor injuries, but the incident last Friday morning has reinforced his belief that a bypass is the safest and best way to solve what is a worrying problem.

He told us: “I was walking with my stick on the pavement heading towards Mungo Park, outside the Three Hills Coffee shop, and an enormous lorry with a huge caterpillar something on the back of it swung slowly round the corner to go up Tower Street.

"The back end was over the pavement and caught me in the middle of my back and sent me flying.

"Face down on the pavement I couldn't get any details of the lorry but I have informed the police. Bystanders were quick to help and I got a witness’s details. Injuries were only minor, bruises only. Could have been worse. The driver didn't stop, but there was no way he could see.”

It’s not the first incident of its kind.

Dr Neil added: “We did a survey about four years ago to support a bypass and while we were busy asking people, a mum and her child got knocked down in the exact same spot.

“I think this simply adds to the pressing need for a bypass, which I have banged on about for years.”

However, it seems he’ll have to wait a bit longer.

Town councillor Gordon Edgar, executive member for roads and infrastructure at Scottish Borders Council and co-chair of the A7 Action Group, said: “We in the A7 Action Group do want a bypass, and the route for a bypass is conserved in the council planning documents.

"You just need to stand on any given day to see huge 40-foot vehicles trying to negotiate that corner to go up Tower Street and onto Hillside Terrace … it’s unreal.

"However, as the A7 is a trunk road, it has to be a project taken on by the Scottish Government, and they took it off their priorities list at least two years ago.

"I’ve spoken to three different transport ministers to see if we can put it back on the list, but none of them seemed to be interested.”

A police spokesperson said: “We were called at around 10.50am on Friday, October 8 to reports of a man being hit by a vehicle, on Hillside Terrace, Selkirk.

"Enquiries are ongoing."

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said the department was aware of the incident with Dr Neil and added: “The Borders Transport Corridors Study, published in March 2019, emphasised the importance of a connected, safe, resilient, and high quality strategic transport network for the Borders.

"Amongst its 21 recommendations were two options for targeted and safety-related road improvements on the A7. These options included a possible bypass of Selkirk, localised widening, improved overtaking opportunities and a package of measures to improve road safety. These interventions are currently being appraised within Phase 2 of the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2).

“Until the appraisal process is completed, it is not possible to make individual decisions on improving specific sections of the A7, including a Selkirk bypass.”