“I had the misfortune to be travelling through Lauder late at night during the Common Riding and it was like driving through a war zone. It was quite frightening, with bodies lying all over the road. I think we have to take on board the concerns of the police because, in my view, extending drinking by an extra hour will just bring more problems.” As someone who is the holder of an elected post to represent the public and assist in the economic development of the region as a whole I feel that your comment was damaging, and could only serve to discourage those from other towns and further afield that may be considering visiting the Royal and Ancient Burgh of Lauder as tourists, whether or not during the Common Riding Week.

I note that your profile on Scottish Borders Council website describes you as the 'Champion for Armed Forces and Veterans’ and from this I would assume that you would have at least have some indication of what a 'War Zone’ is. I can assure you that none of the sights anyone passing through Lauder on Common Riding Day may see, remotely resemble those that may be witnessed in Kabul, Baghdad, or even for that matter in my native Belfast.

It is true course that there are some who over indulge ,not all of whom have been patrons of licensed premises. Scottish Borders Councils own Licensing Policy Statement (section 4.4) demonstrates that approximately 70 per cent of all alcohol sales are OFF sales and further states (section 4.6) that consumption on licensed premises is preferable. There may even be the occasional high spirited argument and if this is what you witnessed as you passed through the Burgh, then as both a councillor, and a member of the public, you should have drawn it to the attention of Police Scotland so that it may have been dealt with swiftly.

I may also add that as a councillor if you are concerned that Police Scotland have insufficient resources to deal with such events this may be something you should be looking into, rather than sullying the event itself with your spurious remarks. I also query why if there 'bodies all over the road’ your sense of community fell short of stopping and asking if any of them required assistance.

Lauder and all the other Common Ridings are vital to the communities that hold them, generating trade that sees hospitality businesses through the quieter winter months, securing the jobs of employees and ensuring that the business rates bill can be paid!

Should you wish to visit Lauder on Common Riding Day I will be glad to meet with you to discuss your issues and give you a tour of our well run licensed establishments and of course, I will happily provide you with a Kevlar vest and helmet for your own protection in our War Zone.

I am, etc.

J S Mckay West High Street Lauder