Councillor airs factory blast fears

Councillor Stuart Marshall has this week spoken of his fears over a potential explosion at a derelict factory in the town.

Mr Marshall says he was told gas canisters inside the former Woodcock’s factory in Mansfield Square were a “potential bomb” – and he is furious that Scottish Borders Council is refusing to remove them.

During a recent site visit, Councillor Marshall claims a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service officer asked him to contact SBC immediately to relay concerns about “explosive material” in the disused factory.

Mr Marshall said: “One fire officer said to me that if these gas canisters were to be disturbed by youths knocking them over, then what we have on our hands would be a potential bomb.

“And I was told that if
these gas cylinders become disturbed there would be no alternative other than to
place a 500m exclusion zone around the area for at least 24hours.”

A council spokesman said that powers conferred by Building (Scotland) Act 2003 did not allow the local authority to remove the cylinders. It would, however, instruct a contractor to board up the broken windows.

Councillor Marshall – who has now written a strongly-worded letter to SBC chief executive Tracey Logan to express his anger over the council’s stance – said it was absolutely shocking that the council could not have the canisters removed.

He added: “It is high time that both SBC and the owners of derelict buildings got their act together in order to develop them or demolish them.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said the canisters were a council matter, while a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman added that they would work with SBC to remove any hazardous materials from the building, but removal of the canisters was not their responsibility.