Children at risk by crossing plan in Galashiels

Children’s lives will be placed at risk unless a signal-controlled pedestrian crossing is adopted between two Galashiels housing estates, a community council meeting heard this week.

By Paul Kelly
Monday, 21st March 2022, 3:54 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2022, 4:51 pm
Concerns have been expressed over a crossing between the Melrose Gait and Coopersknowe housing estates. Photo: Kimberley Powell.
Concerns have been expressed over a crossing between the Melrose Gait and Coopersknowe housing estates. Photo: Kimberley Powell.

Eildon Housing Association has been given the green light for the new Coopersknowe housing estate, to be located opposite homes at the town’s Melrose Gait.

As part of the plan it is proposed to create a road crossing between the two estates which will incorporate a ‘refuge island’ in the middle of the road in conjunction with two dropped kerbs.

But Galashiels councillors, community councillors and other concerned townsfolk fear that is wholly inadequate to cope with the number of people who will use the crossing to access nearby playparks, shops and sports facilities.

They are calling instead for a zebra crossing or some other form of signal controlled pedestrian crossing to keep residents, and in particular children, safe on the busy C77 road.

Now a petition is to be organised in a bid to force a council U-turn on the matter.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of Galashiels Community Council this week, at which attendees were agreed that a re-think was required.

Community councillor John Birnie said: “I am quite sure that when that island goes in, the way they are planning to put it in, there will be some serious accidents. It’s a pity that they can’t see common sense and realise that it’s going to be a danger.

“It doesn’t surprise me that this has been written-off without even giving consideration for a zebra crossing.”

Community councillor Bill White added: “If I was a family living out there I would not be happy about my young kids going across that road, because they will go across that road even if it is to play in the woods or go to the playpark, so it will be used by kids and I think it really needs to be looked at again.

“The next round of councillors should really put pressure on the officers to change their mind. It can be done if there’s enough pressure.”

Galashiels councillor Euan Jardine agreed, saying: “We had Eildon and the builders down last week to look at the crossing and I said to them that there’s a shop in Melrose Gait that they will be using and they had no idea people would be walking across the road to the shop.

“They didn’t know there was a football pitch coming where people would be walking across to, there’s two play parks, an area where people are going to be growing food, so it is going to well used.

“A zebra crossing with flashing lights would even be suffice, so people know they have to stop.”

A response from John Curry, the council’s director of infrastructure and environment, says: “Roads planning officers at Scottish Borders Council, in liaison with road safety and traffic management officers, concluded dropped kerbs with an island in the carriageway would be the most suitable type of crossing. This would be similar to most of the existing crossings on the busier Melrose Road leading to the town centre.

“A signalised controlled crossing was ruled out on the basis the ratio flow of pedestrians to vehicle figures did not provide justification.”