Volunteers get green light

Volunteer groups will now be allowed to tidy up green spaces in Borders towns after a Scottish Borders Council u-turn.

By Kevin Janiak
Monday, 29th June 2020, 10:52 am
Updated Monday, 29th June 2020, 10:54 am
Galashiels in Bloom have now been given the go-ahead to work on the Bank Street Gardens.
Galashiels in Bloom have now been given the go-ahead to work on the Bank Street Gardens.

Last week, we reported how members of the Galashiels in Bloom group were told to stop work by police earlier this month as they attempted to clean up Bank Street Gardens, which had become overgrown and unsightly.

Town councillors Harry Scott and Sandy Aitchison wrote to first minister Nicola Sturgeon to issue suitable guidance and lobbied local MPs and MSPs as well as the council itself.

On Friday, Christine Graham MSP called for the council to rethink its approach, saying: “I find it absurd that the Tory administration at SBC seems to be blocking the good intentions of community volunteers for no apparent reason other than a very narrow and bureaucratic interpretation of supposed guidance.

“It’s true that the risk of Covid-19 has not disappeared, but gardening outdoors in small numbers and whilst maintaining social distance seems low risk compared to other activities – indeed this seems to have been the conclusion numerous other councils across Scotland have also reached.

“It seems pointless to block the good intentions of Borders volunteers when elsewhere similar efforts are being lauded by their respective councils. Indeed in Peebles I understand £2,000 worth of bedding plants are set to go to waste as SBC won’t allow them to be planted.”

She called for an “element of common sense” to be applied.

At the weekend, the restriction was lifted.

Mr Scott said: “After some robust lobbying of the council by Sandy Aitchison and I over the past weeks, Galashiels Community Council will now be allowed to maintain Bank Street Gardens, providing the rules on social distancing and other regulations in relation to the Covid-19 restrictions are scrupulously followed.

“The community council must ensure that its volunteers, and any contractors employed, are adhering to those rules, and if not to take whatever remedial action is necessary to ensure compliance.

“Galashiels Community Council and their band of volunteers from Gala in Bloom have the grateful thanks of Sandy and I, and I am sure the rest of our community, for undertaking to improve the appearance of the town for the benefit of all.”