Red tape hits Jed deer park

Red tape has forced the owners of Jedforest Deer and Farm Park, near Jedburgh, to make the decision to close the popular visitor attraction.

A statement on the park’s website said the decision to close later this summer came after discussions with the Health & Safety Executive, Scottish Borders Council and insurers.

The statement says: “We have decided to close at the end of this season (August 31, 2014). We hope to stay open until then with some changes – some of the play equipment will be removed, some activities will cease, access to certain parts of the working farm will be prohibited, and during busy times of the farming season there will be reduced car parking due to farm traffic.

“We would like to thank all our visitors over the years – will miss your company.”

And a message on the park’s Facebook page this week adds: “... can’t get over the overwhelming support shown by everyone, thank you.”

Owners John and Lorna Irving were unable to comment this week due to what was described as an on-going discussion with the local authority about public access to working farms.

Whether this means, however, that there might be a slender chance the park could possibly remain open, is unclear.

Thousands of visitors come through the park’s gates every year to get up close to four breeds of deer, as well as rare breeds of farm livestock, together with birds of prey, donkeys and ponies, and other attractions, including a woodland playground and tearoom.

Responding to the closure news, Marika Smith posted on Facebook: “Is there no way this decision can be changed? Surely to goodness it can’t just close without a fight.

“I have spoken to so many people who are frankly shocked at the decision.”

And local Jedburgh area councillor, Sandy Scott, agreed it was disappointing news.

He said: “Yes, it is very sad it is closing. It is a landmark – an amazing number of people know where the Jedforest Deer Park is situated, and as a result it was a very popular venue.

“Mr and Mrs Irving need to be congratulated because it is not easy to run an outdoor visitor centre with all the rules and regulations that this entails, and, of course, the famous British weather.

“The closure will be a huge loss – for parents and children alike.”

VisitScotland regional director Paula McDonald added: “Jedforest Deer and Farm Park has given a great many visitors to the Scottish Borders an enjoyable day out, so we were sorry to hear it will be closing at the end of this summer season.”