PROPOSALS to introduce cycle lanes in Peebles were criticised at the town’s community council meeting last week.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) came under fire from Les Turnbull, the chairman of the community council, who said members of the public are effectively being pushed to complete a public consultation with very little time to consider their views.

Community council member Malcolm Bruce added: “The whole thing is an utter abomination of a plan.”

It was revealed that the proposals are part of the funding from the Scottish Government’s ‘Spaces for People’ scheme to make Peebles’ High Street a more appealing place to walk and cycle – but the cash needs to be spent by the end of May.

The online consultation, which began last Friday and ends on April 30, details plans to remove the white lines in the middle of the road to allow a six-month trial of advisory cycle lanes to give cyclists a more defined space.

These would be introduced from the entry to Peebles on the A72 (east) along High Street, over Tweed Bridge and along Kingsmeadows Road to Cavalry Park.

Mr Turnbull said: “I am concerned that SBC officers are trying to push us with a public consultation with the probable implementation of the scheme in early May.

“What concerns me is it seems to be another policy decision being made by officers without any consultation with those it’s going to affect, the residents of the town.”

Mr Turnbull said encouraging walking and cycling is “admirable”, but called for a halt to the consultation.

He added: “I don’t think that trying to rush through these cycle lanes now in the way that it’s being done is the right way to do it. I know there’s pressure on the officers because they want to apply for government money to implement this, but this is the wrong way round.”

Community councillor Graham Mackie said cycle lanes are a “crazy” idea at the moment.

He said: “Moving the bus stops from the high street to the car park is being considered, and this would be a huge change and might free up additional parking spaces, so it seems crazy to plan to do this now and then it might be obsolete in a few months’ time.

"It would make much more sense to delay it until a decision is made about where the buses are going to stop.”

SBC leader Shona Haslam said that when the council received the funding for the 20mph limits, the possibility of introducing cycle lanes was discussed.

She added: “The issue is that we have the funding and the Scottish Government said that we have to spend this money by the end of May otherwise we lose it.

“If we don’t do the cycle lanes now, we won’t have any money to do them in the future.”

Mr Turnbull replied: “Thanks for the clarity around the funding, but if the plan is the wrong plan then we shouldn’t be spending the money on it, it’s as simple as that.”

But Mrs Haslam warned that SBC would forfeit the funding and said there will not be any capacity in the budget to have cycle lanes in the future.

Responding, community councillor Elizabeth Rae said: “Lose the money, we don’t want it. If that’s the only thing on which the money can be spent, lose the money.”

This was backed up by another community representative, Mr Bruce, who said: “I hate having a gun put to my head like this.

"I do get on my bike occasionally, and I can tell you right now, I would be horrified to cycle down those cycle lanes proposed on the high street – it’s just an accident waiting to happen.”

He added: “If they want to get folk on their bikes then you should be putting the money into cycle lanes well away from the main roads.”

Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell said: “Let me be clear, this is a consultation, there’s no policy decision being made, there’s not a situation where the policy has been decided, this is a consultation on a proposal.”