Understanding heritage’s value

In a Scottish Borders Council debate you featured last week about a possible estate of up to 45 new houses on the Netherbarns site across the Tweed from Abbotsford House, Councillor Bill Herd was reported as dismissing people’s proper concerns as “guff” and reminding us that we are living in the 21st rather than 18th century.

Not only are we aware, but are thankful that we are living in the 21st century where most people understand the value of our heritage, rather than allow themselves to be driven by a blind pursuit of apparent progress.

It is worrying that our local government so often appears to be in the hands of those who seem only to assess the impact of the built environment in terms of views from cars on trunk roads, rather than by actually visiting places of national importance to appreciate just what the setting contributes.

We trust that the people of Galashiels and the whole Borders, and their representatives, will not be so blindly “pragmatic” in future considerations of this proposal for substantial housing – an idea which has previously been rejected by several public inquiries for sound reasons.

Charles Humphries


Save Scott’s Countryside)


I noticed in your report of the council meeting concerning the new Local Plan discussions on the future of Netherbarns a rather pompous quote from Councillor Herd where he states “… and I am calling on this chamber to listen to those entitled to represent Galashiels”.

Councillor Herd is being a bit premature. His constituents in Peebles must be wondering by what authority, therefore, has he been representing Tweeddale East?

Councillor John Mitchell, elected to represent Galashiels and District, must also be concerned at the very obvious lack of support from his party colleague.

I was elected in the constituency of Galashiels and District and am perfectly entitled to speak for the people of Galashiels and the Gala Water valley in which I have lived nearly all my life.

If Councillor Herd had listened to Councillor Nicholas Watson he would have heard a perfectly-reasoned argument.

Nicholas said that the sensitivity of the Netherbarns site was such that it should be removed from the Local Plan discussions and a planning application could be made which could be sympathetic and satisfy the real concerns of many, not least of them Historic Scotland, national guardians of sites of this importance, free from local interest or posturing.

If such a motion had been approved perhaps this site could have been developed long before the endless discussion necessary to produce the final document.

Such perfect logic seems to be difficult to understand.

Councillor Sandy Aitchison

(Borders Party)