EIGHT elderly neighbours of a Kelso garden centre have lodged objections to the premises being granted an off-sales licence.

The dissenters all live in residential Mayfield Gardens next to the Mayfield Garden Centre in the town’s Glebe Lane.

William Strike Ltd, the Carlisle-based owner of the business which last year underwent a major expansion, has submitted a new operating plan to Friday’s meeting of Scottish Borders Licensing Board.

The company wants to be able to serve alcohol to customers in its new 200-seater coffee shop/restaurant from 11am till 11pm daily and also to operate a small retail display area for off-sales from 10am till 10pm.

Although some of the objectors are fearful the restaurant licence will increase traffic and generate extra noise at night, all are set against the off-sales permit and are urging the board to reject it.

Mrs M. Gliksten says the setting of the centre, a former market garden next to the River Tweed, is of “great environmental and amenity value”.

She says last year’s expansion of the business, including the provision of 100 car parking spaces, had already put traffic pressure on narrow roads like The Butts and Glebe Lane which had survived intact since the days of horse-drawn vehicles..

“Our concerns lie with the hours requested for off-sales which, we contend, would be an over-commercialisation of the site,” writes Mrs Gliksten in a letter to board chairman Councillor Willie Archibald.

“If the application is granted, it will greatly increase the scope of the business and the premises could, in very short order, emerge as a supermarket.” She states that “after years of trouble”, late night hooliganism and vandalism in the river area was under control.

“But residents remain fearful that night-time alcohol sales could lead to a resurgence of the problem,” she adds.

Another objector John Wightman concurs, stating in his letter to the board: “There is no call for off-sales within the garden centre. It could affect the amenity of the area, especially if young adults choose to have late evening drinking sessions beside a highly dangerous stretch of the River Tweed.” Mr and Mrs P. Rhodes claim the off-sales hours are “quite out of order in this peaceful area of Kelso” while Mrs J. Bastion avers: “However small the outlet is, take-away drink should not be allowed on this site.” Neither the police nor licensing standards officer Ian Tunnah have objected to the applications.