A PETITION to halt the relocation of Jedburgh Library has resulted in council officers agreeing to consult with the town’s residents.

Scottish Borders Council’s plans to relocate the current Cannongate library to the new intergenerational Jedburgh Grammar Campus have been met with concerns among some residents, resulting in 157 people signing a petition to halt the move.

The concerns raised by the petitioners include the difficulty of reaching the new site, the amount of floor space dedicated to library use at the new campus, and the risk to the current library building if it is left vacant.

The petition was examined by councillors at a meeting of the council’s audit and scrutiny committee, where two of the petitioners, Marianne Bamkin and Georgiana Craster, appeared.

Ms Bamkin told councillors: “As a resident of Jedburgh, I think it’s fair to say we’ve come along to represent the views of people in Jedburgh and the surrounding villages, and the surprise we noted when we were told the library would be moving from the town centre to the campus.

“This is something which was not actually expected throughout the region.

“There was a huge amount of concern about moving something from the town centre which is at the moment easily accessed. It’s also a contact point for the council.

“There is also a worry that people aren’t going to pop into nearby shops and to use them, it’s taking something away from the town centre.

“There is also a big worry in Jedburgh about buildings going out of use. It is situated in a historic building that was purposefully built for the people of Jedburgh as a centre for information.”

Currently, the council is planning to close the old library, which was first opened in May 1900, when the new intergenerational campus at Hatrigge Park opens in April 2020.

The library was built by the Scottish-American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who attended the opening ceremony in the town, after an earlier library he had built six years earlier on the high street had proved to be inadequate.

Six years ago, Scottish Borders Council voted to integrate its contact centres into the region’s libraries, and since then the council has maintained an outpost in Jedburgh Library, which will also move to the Jedburgh Grammar Campus in April.

At the audit and scrutiny meeting, the service director for customers and communities, Jenni Craig, explained that the library will have much longer opening hours at the new campus: “In relation to accessibility, and the times that the library is open, one of the benefits of moving to the new campus will be the library will be longer.

“We accept that this is a huge change but we also see this as an opportunity.

“Members will be aware that as part of the council’s ‘fit for 2024’ transformation programme we are considering how we can deliver services differently to make the best use of our facilities.

“We have a very challenging financial outlook and we have a five year placen for transforming our services.

“In Jedburgh, the significant investment in the campus gives us the opportunity to make the most of the facility.”

After hearing from both sides, councillor Heather Anderson, who represents Tweeddale West, proposed that the matter is formally referred to Ms Craig, and that the service director begins a consultation with the public to address their concerns, from January to March, before the new campus opens in April.

The motion was seconded by Galashiels councillor Harry Scott, and the motion was passed, with only Jedburgh councillor Sandy Scott voting against.

Speaking after the meeting, petitioner Georgiana Craster said: “I’m happy. I was expecting a year long consultation, but you know you ask for bigger and you get lesser, so this is something that we can actually put to the residents.

“There is a lot of sentimentality around the building, and we have to be practical. The school is a wonderful thing, no one is going to say anything against that, but we have to think about everybody, it’s not only about educating children it’s also about the future of elderly people.

“We don’t die immediately, we still continue to live.”