Apr 072010

I come from a small town in the Scottish Borders called Jedburgh.  The town is situated in a very scenic and appealing countryside and has history dating back almost a thousand years.  The town itself is just ten miles from the English border.

Jedburgh Abbey at nightThe problem with Jedburgh is that while the other towns in the Scottish Borders are growing and getting better services this town is stagnating and the population declines.

No new shops are being built in Jedburgh and what shops remain are not attractive to the younger generation hence many younger people will move to one of the other towns.

The issues for Jedburgh are that the Councillors who have control over what is built in the town have not allowed large supermarkets or large shops to be built here.  This is either through self interest or a lack of vision.  The lack of investment in the town's shopping facilities often see people leaving the town on journeys to Hawick or Galashiels to do their weekly shop.  This means money that could be spent in the town is now spent elsewhere.

The town only has one moderate sized supermarket owned by the Co-op.  This means there is no real competition and prices can be inflated to a higher level than for example the price of an item at either Asda or Tesco or Morrison's.

If a new supermarket was allowed to open and compete with the Co-op it's likely that not only would the competition mean better prices but more people would stay in the town which would result in more people shopping in Jedburgh High Street and in the long run this would lead to much more varied and interesting shops opening in Jedburgh.

At the moment Jedburgh High Street does not have a great selection of shops.  Lets say you want to rent or buy a washing machine or blu ray player or some movies then you need to travel to Galashiels. If you want to buy a new tv then once again to see a decent selection and make a choice of what to buy you must travel out of the town.

Jedburgh Castle Jail - This is where we throw the tourists in the dungeon

The point is that the town should be trying to keep it's local residents shopping within it's high street and also getting visitors from the other towns coming to Jedburgh.  That simply will not happen unless Jedburgh Councillors actually start seeing the bigger picture and getting more shops to invest their time and money in Jedburgh.

I think the shops that exist within Jedburgh are not varied enough and do not cater for a wide enough audience in 2009.

Jedburgh Town Centre - It's got everything except decent quality shopping facilitiesPublic transport in Jedburgh and indeed the Border region is not that good either.  If you have a car you are fine but if you rely on buses then you are screwed.

Let's look at the facts.  It is a painful two hour journey to travel from Jedburgh to Edinburgh. There is no option to have a fast track bus to Edinburgh with an hour journey. It's two hours on the bus and uncomfortable with not enough leg space.

The Munro buses used on such journeys seem better suited to local travel than long distance travel. During the summer months the type of windows on these buses often mean you feel like you are in a greenhouse but worse is the fact the seats themselves are just not designed for comfortable long distance journeys to places like Edinburgh or even the next town.

In the eighties they used to have fantastic quality buses which were designed like the Citylink buses you see today.  They were comfortable with great backrests and you didn't feel like everyone was watching you the whole journey.  They had privacy on those old buses and were great to use.  The buses today seem cheaper and have less privacy and less legspace and the backrests of the seats are just not in the same class as the old buses.

I do not like using public bus transport in Jedburgh.  It's a painful and annoying experience and it seriously needs upgrading. It hurts to use public buses in the Scottish Borders. ( literally )

I think the town of Jedburgh has fabulous history and great scenery but the population will decline and the town will fall into ruin unless the people we elect to look after us get their fingers out of their asses and start thinking about the town instead of their expense claims. ( removed part about the wage packet since they are volunteers ) They need to do more for this town and they need to ensure bigger and better shops open here and that public transport is improved so we get comfortable buses.  The lack of forward thinking by self motivated Councillors will see Jedburgh eventually become the poor relation to Hawick or Galashiels.

This town deserves better than what we are getting and the people who can make it happen are just not that interested in doing what it takes to make it happen.

"If you build it they will come"

The above saying is true and Jedburgh needs more shops and better supermarkets.  The Councillors need to make that happen and stop blocking everything out of self interest or because they have friends who are worried their businesses will suffer.

I believe we have blind people with no sense of vision controlling what happens to Jedburgh.  We need forward thinkers who will put the interests of Jedburgh above themselves.  If investment in Jedburgh does not happen within the next ten years then the town is not going to prosper and more people will shop online or travel to other towns and cities.

The fact the new rail link will not go as far as Jedburgh means once again this historic town which has more history than the other Border towns is being overlooked and it's going to suffer because of this.

What are we paying our Councillors for and can i please see a detailed list of their expense claims.

Oh and please do something about those Munro buses.  They are truly not a good advert for public transport.

Some historical facts about Jedburgh

A beautiful Abbey dating from 1147 now stands in ruin as a result of many battles with invading English armies during the 16th Century.

King Malcolm IV died in Jedburgh in the year 1165 aged 24 as a result of excessive fasting

Jedburgh Abbey as it stands today


Mary Queen of Scots stayed in Jedburgh in 1566 and her house is now a museum.  Entrance to the house is free for all residents of Jedburgh but tourists must pay to enter.  Legend says her ghost haunts the house and if you pass by late at night you can hear her ghostly cries but personally i think that's the locals coming out of the pubs that you can hear.

Hundreds of years ago Jethart justice was notorious for having you hanged first and then tried afterwards.

Scientist and writer Mary Somerville was born in Jedburgh in 1780.

James Thomson who wrote the British tune Rule Britannia was born in 1700 near Jedburgh and educated in the town.

David Brewster who invented the Kaleidoscope was born in Jedburgh in 1781.

Rugby stars Roy Laidlaw and Gary Armstrong were also born in Jedburgh.  The town has one of the oldest rugby clubs in Scotland

The Capon Oak Tree which resides very near the town boundaries is said to be 2000 years old and it's kept alive with the help of many bricks.

The population is around 4000 people.

Jethart Snails which is a sweet can still be bought in some of the local shops and the Jedburgh Callants Festival is held every year and features much horse riding and pipe bands.

The Jedburgh Hand Ball game ( Hand Ba ) is played out in the town centre every year.  This game is a version of medieval football and has the uppies versus the doonies. ( downies )

Anti-social behaviour is also on the rise due to lack of facilities for young people in the town and unfortunately bad parenting is also to blame, the police are not interested in tackling anti-social behaviour either and i have suffered a few problems due to it.

Now some people just cannot see that a large supermarket opening will not only bring visitors to the town who will spend money but jobs are created and it usually results in other shops wanting to open which generates more jobs and income for the town, i have read a reaction from a community councillor saying they do not get paid and are volunteers, well i have amended that section of the post, they may not get paid but they are blind and serve serving and in all my years of living in Jedburgh i have seen little done to encourage new shops to open in Jedburgh and i see nothing positive done for the youth of the town who must be bored stiff at times, so where are the cinema's and entertainment facilities, nowhere, Jedburgh needs something like that.

I suggest to the councillor who read this post that they try travelling on the pathetic public transport system on a regular basis and they might soon get fed up.

:UPDATE: July 2nd 2011

Once again Scottish Borders Council has refused permission for a new supermarket in the town, this means the CO-OP will continue to have a monopoly and no competition means higher prices and i think many people will shop in Galashiels and Hawick or get their shopping from online, maybe one day common sense will enter the discussion and we will get that brand new sparkling supermarket, until then the council has done Jedburgh absolutely no favours in refusing permission, there is plenty of land around Jedburgh where new businesses can open, so the excuse the council gave is a hollow one, it looks to me like the current supermarket monopoly has more to do with this than anything else and it would not surprise me to know money changed hands to keep it that way, not an accusation, just an observation at the way the world works.