Fears voiced over risk of damage to new Galashiels statues
Teenagers cycling and skateboarding recklessly are risking causing damage to new statues in Galashiels town centre, community councillors have been told.
The Coulter’s Candy sculpture arrangement in the town’s Market Square was only completed at the end of last year following the installation of depictions of two of the characters named in the lullaby-cum-advertising ditty, also known as Ally Bally Bee.
Its surrounding marble plinths have already been damaged and paving stones there are showing signs of deterioration because of youths skateboarding and cycling around it, however.
That problem was raised at Galashiels Community Council’s latest meeting, held at the town’s Focus Centre last week.
Reporting to community councillors, police constable James Harrison said he is aware of the issue and is looking at ways of addressing it.
He said: “I have talked to Scottish Borders Council about amending the street furniture to see what we can do to make it less easy to either skate or bike along.
“There are a number of different options we can go with.
“It’s a difficult one because we need to catch them in the act and then identify them and charge them, but it is very difficult.
“I am also asking whether the CCTV camera in Overhaugh Street can be pointed in the other direction to try and identify those involved.
“I will chase that up, but as the camera is used primarily for the nightclub, there is no guarantee it will stay in that position. Even if we turn it around, on the weekend it might have to be switched back.”
Community councillor Eileen Frame said: “I saw three people yesterday and one today jumping around on BMX bikes. It’s always about three o’clock in the afternoon. It’s the same boys.
“The stones are being damaged, and the young people can be quite intimidating”.
Community activist Johnny Gray has also tried to intervene to safeguard the statues.
“They said ‘what damage are we doing cycling on it?’ and I said ‘you are damaging it, lad’ and I just got a load of abuse,” he told community councillors.
Mr Gray added: “We’re not against bikers and skateboarders, but we need them to be doing it in a safer environment and not put the general public at risk.”
The bronze statue of Galashiels weaver-turned-confectioner Robert Coltart was unveiled in September last year by Glaswegian folk singer Jimmie Macgregor, famous for recording his song Coulter’s Candy, later covered by Donovan and Catherine McKinnon, with Robin Hall in 1961.
Two accompanying sculptures of young customers of Coltart’s named Little Jock and Wee Jeannie, also created by Innerleithen sculptor Angela Hunter, followed in December.
Former weaver Coltart, alive from 1832 to 1880, came up with the song to promote his confectionery business.
Speaking after the meeting Galashiels councillor Euan Jardine said: “I encourage people to get out and keep active.
“However, this issue is more than just people following in the footsteps of Danny MacAskill. It is one that is causing concern in a busy area of Galashiels where people either choose to sit and relax or walk through to get to other parts of the town.
“The fantastic Coluter’s Candy statue is also a tourist attraction, and we do not want the place to gain a reputation as a no-go area due to people using it as an ad-hoc biking stunt arena.
“I did raise the concerns about the issue back in August when people reported that they feel threatened by the situation.
“I was informed that it would be investigated, like others that reported it, but it seems to be consistently happening with no resolution.
“We have a skate and bike park area in town, but I am open to starting a dialogue with the bikers so we can constructively look at creating areas for them to practise and use their creativity in a way that everyone benefits from.”