Plans pushed backwards

Public agencies involved in the development of the Tweed Valley as a tourist destination have confirmed they will not be putting money into the project to install a chairlift at Innerleithen.

Stakeholders – including Scottish Borders Council, Scottish Enterprise, Forest Enterprise Scotland and Visit Scotland – announced that public finance would not be forthcoming despite a local ballot in which 91 per cent of local residents voted in favour of the plans.

However, the Tweed Valley Mountain Biking Stakeholders Group (TVMBSG) decided against funding the plans due to two consultations casting doubt on the projected visitor numbers and the future sustainability of the chairlift.

Councillor Stuart Bell, whose Tweeddale East ward includes Innerleithen, said: “We understand there will be disappointment at the decision, but uncertainty around the level of demand and financial viability of the scheme means it would be a high risk project for the public sector at this time.” However, he said that with a major private investment  the project could still go ahead.

Ian Campbell, of the AIMup community group which has promoted the initiative since 2011, told The Southern Reporter he utterly disagreed with the consultations due to “a number of glaring errors”. He has now arranged for a meeting on April 9 to iscuss the future plans of the project.

He said: “We want people to come along, make their voices heard and challenge our public agencies and elected representatives to do more. It seems that despite all the work we have put into this process so far and all the comforting words of politicians, none are currently willing to show the ambition to back a project which will have the game-changing impact our community so desperately needs right now.”

With over 330,000 visitors using the Tweed Valley’s mountain bike facilities every year, we hope that some sort of compromise can be reached. Maybe the crowd funding route, similar to Dirt Factory, is the best option from here.