Residents fear being left stranded on hill

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Elderly residents staying in flats in Melrose’s Dingleton Hill area are in danger of being left stranded while the road connecting them to the town centre is closed.

Dingleton Road has been closed between the hours of 8am and 5pm since July for gas mains repair works, and it is due to stay that way for several more weeks.

Resident Jacky Hibbs called us to register her fears for her neighbours, many of whom are elderly and rely on the No 72
bus service to get them into town to do their shopping.

She said: “There was a big worry that the bus company would not come up this road after it was reopened as we had managed without it for so long, but for the elderly people who stay in the old hospital flats, it’s a necessity.

“The hill is so steep, and for those who are infirm and don’t have a car, the bus is a lifeline.”

Mrs Hibbs called for a separate service to run in the meantime even though it would have to go the long way round.

She said: “It would not need to run all the time, but a small bus doing two runs a day up and down would be sufficient. People could work their lives around that.”

A First Bus spokesman urged residents to support the service by using it to ensure it stays viable in the long term.

He said: “First Scotland East operates service No 72, which serves customers at Dingleton Hill, and this has been subject to recent disruption due to ongoing gas mains work.

“This service is operated on behalf of Scottish Borders Council and is due to come under review by the council in the coming weeks.

“We would encourage residents to support this and other services provided in the area, to ensure their long term viability.

“The service is running, but not between the hours of 8am and 5pm. We are committed to providing the service as best we can.”

A council spokesman said: “During the work being carried out by Scottish Gas Networks, Scottish Borders Council service 964 continues to operate up to four times a day on Mondays to Fridays, giving Dingleton residents the chance to travel to and from Melrose and Galashiels to do their shopping.

“Data supplied by First as part of the bus service review is for May – before the roadworks commenced.

“Service 72 will resume its full route between Selkirk Bannerfield and Melrose Buccleuch Street via Dingleton when the roadworks are complete.”