Heriot headaches

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Could I possibly correct a misapprehension that might arise about the headline used for my letter (27 March)?

My point wasn’t that the Borders Railway itself is ruining our area. While I’m sure people would disagree with me from both sides, it is probably fair to say its long-term effect on our community will be fairly neutral – some changes will be for the better, some definitely for the worse.

My complaint actually refers to the seemingly careless manner in which the railway construction was carried out by BAM management – not the construction workers themselves, whom we have found to be extremely helpful and friendly overall.

When it started operations, BAM promised to keep our community informed in respect of what work we could expect, and when, and gave us a very clear message that there would be dialogue and consultation between the railway developers and our community.

That failed to materialise in a meaningful manner.

I could relate numerous tales to illustrate this from the past two years, but there was always a recurrent theme: BAM informs us that work will be carried out in a particular way, the work is carried out in a different way that then inconveniences the community; BAM apologises and says it won’t happen again.

Its community engagement seemed to be a façade that allowed it to neutralise complaints before doing pretty much what it wanted.

No-one could reasonably have expected that the construction period would be free from inconvenience, but so much of the trouble was foreseeable and avoidable.

Given the number of issues that we have had to raise, I can think of only two reasonable explanations: either BAM didn’t care about the effects of its operations on our community, or it has displayed a serious level of incompetence.

Sorry – three; it may be incompetent and it doesn’t care.

I have been told BAM would be likely to bid for the putative HS2 line. If that is the case, I fear the avoidable misery we have endured here will be replicated across myriad other communities in southern England.

(Dr) Gavin Whittaker

Heriot Community Council

Heriot

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