With reference to the recent go-ahead on the proposed Falahill roundabouts on the A7, I was utterly bemused to witness part of SBC’s planning committee meeting on February 14, but as a cynical observer of the workings of local government, I suppose I should not have been surprised.
The allegedly unequivocal “road user manager” Derek Ingles presented Transport Scotland’s proposal for the double roundabout at Falahill in a partisan fashion, reading out a letter from one of the 10 Falahill householders, in support of the proposal, but omitting to read out any of the 36 or so objections from other local residents or A7 users.
The committee chair, Jock Houston, initially seemed to have real reservations about the proposal, but voted for it; Carolyn Riddell-Carre muddied the waters by introducing a “what if” aspect (“What if we oppose the proposal – there might be an appeal and we might lose control of how the proposal then goes”) which to my mind confused the issue; John Mitchell, one of the Galawater councillors, abstained despite an articulate speech against the proposal; Tom Weatherston and Donald Moffat decided to follow the committee chair, regardless of the fact that they do not use the road in question, living as they do in an entirely different part of the Borders.
Trevor Jones, the committee vice-chair, opted to spend eight minutes in the lavatory to excuse himself from voting. Had they even looked at, let along studied, all or any of the evidence laid before them?
If it wasn’t so adversely affecting so many of us, this session would have been a comedy. I invite you all to attend SBC’s planning committee meetings – a public meeting – and witness the shockingly amateur fashion that important issues are debated and passed by our elected body.