Kelso shoppers are being urged to support its traders after an unsafe building resulted in the closure of one of the town’s busiest shopping street.
Roxburgh Street, just off the main square, was closed to both traffic and pedestrians earlier this month after the discovery of a dangerous chimney on its corner with Horsemarket.
While pedestrian access was regained quickly after scaffolding was erected and the chimney removed, the road has been closed since the start of the month, causing concern to the traders based on the street.
With further work expected to the gable end and a time frame yet to be set for the road’s reopening, shopkeepers and council officials are calling on townsfolk not to be put off by the closure and to continue to support the Roxburgh Street shops in the run up to Christmas.
Tanya Mitchell from Snipz n Clipz barbers, one of the outlets affected, said: “It’s looking like it’s going to be weeks rather than days. It’s not looking very good for some of the businesses in Roxburgh Street.
“Many have reported a huge drop in footfall and profits since the road was close and we don’t know how long it’s going to go on for.”
Kelso and district councillor Tom Weatherston added: “The council are trying their best to support businesses during this difficult time for them with Christmas fast approaching.
“The three Kelso councillors will do their best to support the shops and a meeting is arranged to see if we can help with advertising and making people aware the street is open for business. I would urge locals and visitors to shop in the street as normal.
“I would also like to pay tribute to officers and the contractor who are doing their best to get the job done as soon as possible.”
Particularly concerned about those businesses relying on passing trade, town provost Dean Weatherson added: “It’s a very serious issue as the retail and coffee shops have been hit especially hard. It has come at the worst possible time too, just as they were getting their Christmas stock delivered.
“The community council invited officers are traders from Roxburgh Street along to our October meeting and there was a good turn out.
“The good news from the meeting was that this work would progress regardless of whether they could trace all the owners of the building or not.
“The priority is to get the building made safe so the road can open as soon as possible.
“I’d encourage everyone in the town to make the effort to go up Roxburgh Street and do some shopping, even if you don’t normally, otherwise it could potentially mean businesses closing.”
A Scottish Borders Council spokesman confirmed: “Pedestrian access to Roxburgh Street in Kelso was restored on Friday, October 6. However, the road remains closed to traffic due to a dangerous building.
“A chimney which was causing concern has been removed with further work required on the gable wall.
“Additional signage and banners have been installed advising members of the public that pedestrian access is available and all local shops remain open.
“A timescale for the reopening of the road is still to be determined but the council is making every effort to resolve this situation, and are still in discussions the owner of the building. However, public safety continues to remain the primary concern at this stage.”
To enable access for motorists during the closure, the one-way order on Union Street has been temporarily suspended
Diversion signage is in place and is directing traffic from the town centre through Woodmarket, Rose Lane, East Bowmont Street and Bowmont Street.