THREE Peebles charities have been presented with cheques by members of a local allotments society who are campaigning to save their plots from becoming a building site for new houses.

March Street Mill allotment holders raised a total of £473 by selling their produce during an open day at the allotments in October.

Members decided to divide the sum between Bonnie Peebles, the Macmillian Care Society and Peeblesshire Food Bank, who each received just over £157.

The open day was part of the plot-holders campaign to save their gardens from being moved to a smaller, currently contaminated, area of the mill site as part of proposals to replace most of the historic mill with houses.

Elizabeth Gray, chairman of the MacMillan Cancer Support’s Peeblesshire fund raising group, said the charity was “hugely appreciative” of the donation.

She added: “We would spend a long time standing outside a supermarket to raise this kind of money.

"And everything we collect in this area we spend in the Borders on outreach care services and at Borders General Hospital.”

Bonnie Peebles co-ordinator Avril Murray was equally pleased.

She said: “We’re absolutely delighted to receive this cheque. It was so kind to think of us.”

Avril was one of hundreds of people who attended the Open Day in October when plot holders showed visitors their gardens and donated produce for sale to visitors in aid of the three charities.

“It was a lovely day and they are such great allotments,” said Avril, who visits the site regularly when taking round judges for various garden competitions.

“They are very tidy plots and the site is very well kept and managed.

"I know that the mill site owners want to move them to the other side of the site but I think they should stay where they are. It’s very short-sighted just to use the mill site for houses without a thought for industry, employment and other things."

Peebles Food Bank treasurer Francis Mordaunt said the charity was very grateful for the money, which would help to meet vital costs such as rent and insurance.

“We are hopefully heading towards break-even this year having made a loss in the last few years,” he said.

“The sad thing is that demand is increasing all the time.

"When we started in September 2013 we thought it would be a temporary thing but more and more it’s a necessity for people who fall through the net one way or another.”

March Street Allotments chairman Ian Mewett said plot-holders were delighted to have raised the money.

He told us: “We decided to open up the allotments as part of our campaign to stop proposals by the site owners to move us from our present site to a much smaller and heavily shaded area.

“We thought carefully about which charities should benefit from our produce sales and it’s great to be able to help three such worthy causes.”

The allotments committee plans to hold another open day next year and is considering a range of other events to keep the campaign in the spotlight.

“It’s surprising how many people didn’t know we existed before we found ourselves under threat and since we launched our campaign our waiting list has grown and the strength of our support is shown by the petition of 1400 names we presented to Scottish Borders Council.”

Mill site owners Moorbrook Textiles have submitted outline plans for 70 houses on the five-acre site along with the proposals to move the allotments, which have been worked since 1941.

This proposal is expected to be considered by the council’s planning committee early next year.