Safety review for festivals after rally deaths

All major spectator events in Scotland are to be subjected to a safety review following the deaths of three rallying enthusiasts in the Borders.

It has been ordered by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill after he and the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, met police officers investigating the fatalities.

Chief Superintendant Gill Imery at a press call outside Kelso Police Station along with Kenny Macaskill MSP regarding the weekend's events at The Jim Clark Rally.

Chief Superintendant Gill Imery at a press call outside Kelso Police Station along with Kenny Macaskill MSP regarding the weekend's events at The Jim Clark Rally.

Partners Iain Provan, 64, and Betty Allan, 63, from Barrhead, were killed alongside Len Stern, 71, of Bearsden, when a car in the Jim Clark Rally lost control near Little Swinton around 4pm on Saturday. A man aged 61 was seriously injured.

Two hours earlier, six people were injured – one seriously – when another competitor’s vehicle left the closed-off road near Eccles.

After the fatal crash the rally was abandoned and the next day’s stages cancelled.

The police investigation is ongoing and criminal proceedings haven’t been ruled out.

Mr MacAskill told the Scottish Parliament: “The decision on holding a discretionary fatal accident inquiry is for the Lord Advocate alone, as is any decision on whether criminal prosecution is appropriate.”

He revealed Holyrood would commission a review of motorsport event safety and that Scottish Borders Council, as one of the organisers of the Jim Clark Rally, would be involved. And he also confirmed that a separate review would be carried out into all major spectator events – and it won’t be confined to sport.

The review will include Borders common ridings and festivals, as well as mountain biking in the area and some rugby sevens.

Mr MacAskill said: “We are moving into an unprecedented summer full of events and sporting activity ... and with this in mind, I think it is appropriate to undertake a health check of event planning for events taking place this summer. This will ensure that robust safety regimes and risk assessment are in place, and that licensing conditions are being met.

“Police Scotland have undertaken to carry this out over the next four weeks.”

Council leader David Parker told us that the local authority and police worked closely throughout the year with common riding and festival committees.

He told us: “All our common ridings and festivals and other events have a good events plan. Committees have come a long way over the years on health and safety grounds.

“We will do a review to see that what needs to be done is being done, and to ensure we are not missing anything. We will have another look because you can never rule out the unexpected.”

He added: “Events are a key part of our heritage and culture. We will work with organisers over the coming months and will continue to place the highest priority on public safety.”

He expressed the council’s condolences to the families of those who died.

Medical director with NHS Borders, Dr Sheena MacDonald, said: “Over the next few months if anyone affected by this tragedy feels they need additional support they should speak to their GP.”

A leaflet on dealing with traumatic events is available on the NHS Borders website or by calling 0800 3742777.