Plans for food van in Earlston layby approved despite objections

Plans for a hot food van in a layby at Earlston have been approved despite objections from the owner of horses and ponies kept nearby.

Businessman John Sclater intends to site a trailer offering food in a layby around 150m south of Earlston.

Alison Langford, owner of horses kept in the adjacent field objected, however, citing concerns over them eating disused burger rolls and rubbish she fears could be generated by his stall.

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She wrote in her objection: “I am one of three horse livery owners in fields that sit on this layby.

People sitting in the layby already feed the horses rubbish. I have one pony already getting treated by a vet. The last thing we need is burgers and rolls left around the field.

“Why is the next layby up not used? It would be a better idea, with no horses or gates to worry about.”

Her concerns were overruled by Scottish Borders Council’s civic government licensing committee at its latest meeting, though. 

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Appearing before the committee, Mr Sclater said: “Regarding the objections, I hope that I can allay some of the worries there. 

“With regards to noise, I’ve supplied the decibel output of the generator, which is pretty low. I can’t see how that would be a problem for horses as it’s far below the sound of cars going past and definitely lower than tractors and lorries.

“Regarding the feeding of the horses, I wonder if there’s been a problem in the past with the person who put in the objection, but if there has, it’s not been caused by litter from trade like this. 

“This is the only layby not serviced by a bin, and there is a lot of litter on the site.

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“If I’m granted permission to trade there, the litter will be my problem as I’ve agreed with Transport Scotland that I will clear up at the end of each day.

“I’ve been brought up around horses. I’ve taken part in common ridings my whole life. I respect horses, and there’s no way I would see harm allowed to be done to them by others.

“I went by at night, and I’ve seen that lorries stop there at night, and I’ve seen no one blocking the gate.”

Also appearing before the committee, Ms Langford maintained her opposition, saying: “I’ve horses on the layby, but they’re mini-horses. They’re about 24 inches, just tiny little things. It’s toddlers that use them, so they’re used during school hours. 

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“Something that’s not been mentioned is that this is an accident blackspot. From the camera going into Earlston up to the 30mph signs, there have been a number of accidents. 

“The national speed limit starts before the corner and they zoom past that layby something bad. It’s a danger at the moment as cars zoom into the layby.”

Councillors also heard that neither police nor council licensing officers are opposed to the plans, and that Transport Scotland has agreed to grant permission to Mr Sclater.

Tweeddale East councillor Robin Tatler asked Mr Sclater whether he would be prepared to erect signage warning customers to not feed the horses or block the gate, and that was agreed to. 

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Councillors voted unanimously to grant a licence for a food van. 

Selkirk councillor Elaine Thornton-Nichol said: “Transport Scotland has approved this, planning permission has been granted, the gentleman has deliberately bought low-decibel equipment and he’s going to be responsible for the rubbish, which probably means there’ll be more cleaning up than currently happens. 

“There’s all sorts of positives, in my opinion, coming from what he is saying, so I’d propose that this is granted because I cannot see how we cannot.”

Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown added: “I think the best way forward here is for both of you to get a good rapport going, work together, look out for each other’s interests and move forward with this.”