CONCERNS have been raised about whether traders in Peebles are missing out during events held on ‘common good’ land “free of charge”.

A number of functions throughout the year go ahead on park space under the control of Peebles Common Good Fund, including Tweed Green.

A meeting of the group’s sub committee this week heard that organisers are charged for use of the land for certain events but not others.

Peter Maudsley, a member of Peebles Community Council, said: “It has been argued that because of the amount of revenue coming into the town then it’s a good idea to not charge for that [use of the land], but we don’t agree.”

He said he was “unsure” on the level of revenue for shops in the town being brought in by events held on common good land.

Mr Maudsley added: “We have never had any of the traders come to us and say they have seen an increase in income, whereas we have had traders coming to us to say they’ve never seen an increase in income.”

The issue of charging profit-making organisations for use of the land was raised more than a year ago at a meeting of the town’s community council.

On Wednesday the TweedLove Bike Festival, recently held on Tweed Green, was discussed.

More than 8,000 people attended the event and it was hailed as a huge success by organisers.

But Mr Maudsley said that, to the best of his knowledge, the use of the land had been free of charge.

Tweeddale East councillor Julie Pirone, of the Conservatives, said: “Obviously the TweedLove festival has grown in stature and size and I wouldn’t want to stop that at all.

“But I’ve seen the same feedback [as Mr Maudsley] because it has grown in size, there’s a licensed bar in the marquee, and licensed food vendors.”

She added: “I was surprised we didn’t charge for the use of Tweed Green. We could be making money from that common good land that we could then use in Peebles and further afield in Peeblesshire to do some good.”

Ms Pirone said charges could apply to commercially-run enterprises but small events, such as the recent unveiling of the witchcraft memorial, could remain free “because it’s for the good of the town”.

Tweeddale West councillor Drummond Begg, of the Liberal Democrats, said: “The principle is you look at the benefit to Peebles and then the revenue that might be generated.

“I think it’s always fair to say depending on what events you bring into a town there will be some traders who will do okay and others that will lose out – that’s inevitable. It’s about getting the balance right throughout the year.

“The devil’s in the detail. It might come full circle and say, ‘You know what, it’s right that we make it free’.

“I doubt that but it’s about looking at all the detail.”

It was agreed that more clarity was needed on the charging policy for commercial events.

Ms Pirone said: “It feels to me unfair and probably to the constituents we serve it looks unfair.”

Nuala McKinlay, chief legal officer at Scottish Borders Council, said she would discuss the matter with director of assets and infrastructure John Curry.

A report on common good land charging may then be brought before full council.