Councillor calls for dangerous stretch of A7 road to be improved

A LETTER has been sent to Scottish Government transport minister Keith Brown demanding action be taken to improve a notorious stretch of the Borders’ busiest road.

Stow resident and Galashiels and District councillor Sandy Aitchison has written to Mr Brown calling for investment in the 20-mile section of the A7 from Galashiels to the Midlothian border at Middleton Moor.

His plea follows another accident last week, when a 23-year-old woman suffered spinal injuries after a crash one mile south of Stow.

And in February this year, 24-year-old Graham Milroy of Galashiels died following an accident on the route.

Mr Aitchison has asked Galashiels Community Council to back his call for the Scottish Government to complete major works on the road.

He told members: “The A7 has been closed yet again and I am sick of it.

“I am hoping Stow and Heriot community councils will put pressure on the Scottish Government to do something with this stretch of the A7.

“Jackie Stewart would struggle to get round the worst of the corners.

“We have been told it is not dangerous – tell that to the people who have been involved in a serious accident.”

The A7 from Kingsknowes roundabout south of Galashiels to the Edinburgh City Bypass used to be classed as a trunk road, but lost this status in 1996, reverting to Scottish Borders Council’s responsibility for the section south of the Midlothian boundary.

But Mr Aitchison believes it is the Scottish Government who must fund significant amendments. He told TheSouthern: “At the moment it is not realistic to expect the council to take on such a major task.

“I think more passing places have to be built. There is no safe passing place between the Fountainhall straight and the straight at Bow south of Stow, and the frustration builds up. It has happened to me as well. How many more serious injuries and deaths until something is done?

“People point to the investment in the railway but that won’t remove a lot of cars from the road.”

Fellow councillor Bill White believes the section north of Galashiels should be re-trunked, while community council chairman Ian Purvis added: “I remember the Beeching cuts of the Waverley Railway and we were told the A7 would be improved. I don’t think anything has happened since.”

But SBC’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, Gordon Edgar, called on Galashiels, Heriot and Stow’s community councils to get more involved in the A7 Action Group.

He added: “We have Michael Moore, the Secretary of State for Scotland, as our chairman, so we do have some leverage.

“David Mundell MP also attends some of the meetings. Selkirk has a strong voice, in particular on the need for a Selkirk bypass, due to our involvement in the action group.

“They will not get anything if they don’t get involved in the action group.

“The Scottish budget from Westminster is being slashed by 18 per cent until 2018, which is around £6billion. That means the council budgets will be cut.

“The first place the cuts are made are roads but all services need infrastructure. The budget is getting cut and cut but there has to come a point where it stops, otherwise lives will be at risk.”

An SBC spokesman said there were no plans for any improvements to the A7 this year or as part of its current capital financial plan.

He added: “However, there is a major realignment at Fallahill and two junction improvements, at Heriot and Fountainhall, that are associated with the Borders Railway Project.

“The council is aware of the accident concerns on the A7, and this is regularly discussed with Lothian and Borders Police. We understand that the police have committed additional resources to monitor traffic behaviour and enforce current speed restrictions.

“The council expects a reduction in the number of vehicles on the A7 after the opening of the railway.”