Saturday, October 14, 2006

Life & Times in Jedburgh take a turn for the worst ...

It seems that the Royal Burgh of Jedburgh,my former town, has become a place where drunken & drug filled youths terrorise the tourists, valdalising everything in their path. Hmmm .. I sort of remember Jedburgh has always been a bit likie that .. so why the cry of foul now ?

I remember when drunken members of Jed Thistle Rugby Team went round smashing up peoples property, vandalising cars, and setting alight all kinds of things ... people targeted in their homes by jealous elements of the town, drugs being sold openly - for years, even at the town's secondary School ... but what can one expect from the youth of a town where the parents insipire their children to carry on hatreds of others though the generations ? .. I don't think we can expect much really.

In 1990, our family was targeted by some of the Town's Rugby playing & businessmen's sons, in a frightening attack in the early hours of a July Sunday Morning, where around 8 men broke into our property with weapons, even a can of petrol, to burn down my late father's old shop in the Bongate & terrorise myself & my mum. I caught one of the attackers, Mr Raymond MacKay, and handed him over to two attending Police Officers, PC Ian Anderson & another ... My mum & the Police listened while Raymond (we knew him well, used to live opposite, in the Bongate) confessed openly, (although he was drunk) .. that he & his friends were there to "wipe us out" because they were jealous I had a car and that I was to inherit my father's properties. Such noble motives then, for what could have been an attempted murder ?

Not surprisingly, because the group of attackers contained members of the Town's Jedforest Rugby Club (which my father had played for in his own youth). we heard nothing more .. no charges were preferred against the rest of the villians .. and that was it. Pretty horrible thing to happen then, you may think .. and you would be correct .. but, it's happened before in Jedburgh .. and has happened a few times to others since that attack on us by some of the children of the town's 'great & good'.

Jedburgh is one of those .. hard to describe communities. A lovely town, don't get me wrong .. in it's architecture .. for instance, Jedburgh Abbey has to be the most beautiful Abbey in the Scottish Borders .. although I would say that of course, because I lived there ... but the townsfolk can be twisted to the point of hatred which one can only shiver at .. and openly delight in the suffering of others. Also, the murders the Town has suffered in recent times .. these have usually went unsolved ... or have occurred over typical drunken fights which the town suffers every weekend.

For instance, don't go thinking I ever got any support from others in Jedburgh for my stance against crooked lawyers. Most of the people in the town were delighted when they heard Andrew Penman & Norman Howitt had robbed my fathers assets - I would say, there was almost a 'party atmosphere' among some over the coverage I had in the Scotsman newspaper ... a very strange reaction indeed. Even after my mother died .. a neighbour couldn't wait to tell me I was an 'orphan' .. this comment coming from a 60 year old adult who lived within the grounds of a Church ! .. not something which troubled me too much though, as one of her sons had been in on the attack on our property I mentioned in 1990. Only a few people (not being from Jedburgh themselves) had anything to say on this by way of support, but I did have some friends who were instrumental in exposing what happened to me at the hands of the legal profession .. those persons I shall not identify, but my eternal gratitude & respect goes to them.

The townsfolks hatred continued though, past the death of my mother, and from late 2001 to the end of 2003, when I left Jedburgh, I was subject to a bitter campaign of violence, verbal abuse, and almost daily attacks of vandalism against my property, in a bid to force me out so that a neighbour could buy it up on the cheap.

I had no friends of course, at Scottish Borders Council .. due to my exposing of their incessant corruption (albeit from sources within the Council workforce) .. so when the Bosses at SBC realised this 'neighbour' (who had a history of violence & threats to others) was out to force me out of my home .. the Council joined in with glee .. and a long running legal action in Jedburgh Sheriff Court, to obtain an interdict & claim damages for vandalism & harrassement against a neighbour, was about the only thing I could do to keep the fearsome locals at bay - with almost daily visits to my property from the Police over further incidents of harrassement & violent threats towards me.

Even my legal action against the violent neighbour in Jedburgh Sheriff Court was fiddled to the extent that opposing legal counsel lied through their teeth ... tried to thwart my legal aid application, lied to the Sheriff, tried everything they could to wipe my side of the story out .. byt when my MSP, Phil Gallie, intervened, helping me to get legal aid .. then, as surprises go, the violent neighbour's lawyer asked to settle the case the very next day .. and sure enough .. a couple of weeks later in Jedburgh Sheriff Court .. that was the end of it .. with this same neighbour, who had led me a life of hell, along with his biker colleagues from all over the Borders for 2 years, asked to buy my late father's property in a deal which then went on to be ruined by .. yes, you guessed it, a lawyer from Edinburgh who walked away from the deal taking a sick note of stress, to get out of the mess he created.

Think I didn't do anything for my community ? well .. think again.

I mentioned that Jedburgh had been full of drugs for a number of years .. from at least 1993 I should say .. where a well known family who lived in the infamous "Bongate View' Council tenements .. were openly dealing drugs to the townsfolk and were carrying out systematic burglaries of all premises within Jedburgh.

Not one of the gutless cowards on Jedburgh Community Council, or Scottish Borders Council, did anything about this mob ... even the local Police seemed powerless, while car after car and child after child visited Bongate View for their drugs supply. I remember one day, for instance, two uniformed Police officers were there to servce a warrant on the family's matriarch for shoplifting .. but customers had arrived for their weekend supply of cannabis & whatever .. so the son of the family had to sit in the car with the customers while the Police finished their business .... wholesome stuff, don't you think ?

The whole mess only ended when I asked Lothian & Borders CID from Hawick to use one of my fathers buildings in a surveillence operation against the dealers - but after months of work, the operation was botched and eventually, only meetings with the then head of Housing for the then Roxburgh District Council at Hawick, got this lot evicted .. to Niddrie in Edinburgh, where I'm sure they were happy.

What happened to the drugs ? well, the dealers only went to other parts of the town .. most of it was being brought in from Hawick anyway .. and I remember vividly, years later from the Bongate View troubles, a Tabloid reporter contacting me from Glasgow over a story that even a Policeman's son had been selling the ectasy drug at the town's secondary School ... again .. not much was done, and the boy certainly never prosecuted .. I wonder if that lad put on his cv he was a former drugs dealer too.

Suffice to say .. it was a horrible time .. something I have yet to write about in detail .. but it showed to me the depravity of the Jedburgh Community, where crooked elected Councillors were just liars .. basically criminals, really .. they would fiddle planning applications & lie .. happily make racist or sectarian comments in public .. run round spreading gossip & lies . out of a twisted jealousy which one can hardly define through words.

I think, I could safely call Jedburgh, the North Korea of the Scottish Borders. Just think of it that way .. and then make it about 10 times worse. I feel sorry for the good people there .. because there are some .. but the town is being run by a dangerous clique who will stop at nothing to get their way .. and violence seems just a part of their vast arsenal they employ against those which don't fit their mould.

I really don't see how the Town Provost Len Wyse can stand there pontificating about these things, when he refused to help me when I asked for Community Council support against those who were causing me grief ... I was told he arbitrarily declared at one Community Council meeting 'there would be no answering any letter from Peter Cherbi and no member of the Community Council was to contact him' .. after Councillor Hugh Wight jumped up one night and made a "frenzied verbal attack on me" .. wanting rid of me from the town.

Well, they got their way, I was driven out .. but Wyse, Wight, and the rest of them, are the problem for Jedburgh .. not the town's youth. After all .. how can the young be expected to act any different, when the adults act like, or worse than, animals.

Here then are a selection of articles from the "Southern Reporter"of news from Jedburgh, which saw a lot of bad publicity this week .. the story on town violence (which is excessive compared with other towns its size in the Borders) and the loss of the Jedburgh Cottage Hospital ... seems Jedburgh is dying on it's feet these days .. but I think the people should really be questioning who their leaders are .. because they aren't doing a good enough job at all.

Maybe the town would benefit from some new blood ?.

As for me .. I'm glad to be out of it ..and to be able to see from afar, what a silly, corrupt wee place it has become .. or was it ever anything different I now ask myself ...

Mob doesn't rule Jedburgh claims provost

CLAIMS that tourists will think twice before stopping overnight in Jedburgh because of "mob rule" by rowdy local teenagers have been dismissed by town provost Len Wyse this week, writes Mark Entwistle.

In last week's Southern, a visitor from Leicestershire complained about the behaviour of Jedburgh youngsters during a stay to celebrate a golden wedding anniversary.

D.T. Alexander, from Melton Mowbray, wrote that on previous trips the couple had always found Jedburgh to be "a quiet, respectful town and a pleasure to visit".

However, the letter continued: "On this occasion we walked along the river banks and up the town to get a meal. In the Market Place we observed a group of teenagers on the benches and they appeared to be indulging in alco-pops and other drinks.

"We returned to the guest house about 7.30pm and soon after we heard a lot of noise from Queen Street. A group of teenagers was observed – shouting, swearing, climbing over fences, being sick on the pavement and making a downright nuisance of themselves with their noise and behaviour.

This behaviour carried on until after 10pm – by this time the gang numbered between 20 to 30 teenagers. On going to my car on the following morning, I found that the windscreen wipers had been tampered with and the driver's side wing mirror ripped apart, with the glass smashed and the plastic components scattered.

"On making inquiries about reporting the vandalism to the police, I was informed that the police station at Jedburgh is unmanned after certain hours. I did wonder why no police intervened the previous night, but was informed that the nearest active police station was at Hawick.

"Speaking to other residents in the Queen Street area, they informed me that this behaviour is normal every Friday/Saturday night and most residents just shut their doors and curtains, and let mob rule roam the streets
"What a pity that Jedburgh has fallen victim to this obnoxious behaviour and no doubt many tourists, like myself, will think twice before stopping overnight".

However, Provost Wyse says the royal burgh is no different from any other Border towns when it comes to young people.

"I appreciate that older people may feel a bit threatened or intimidated by groups of youngsters hanging about, but apart from a bit of minor vandalism occasionally, there's no real problem. There's never any violence," he told TheSouthern this week.

"There's a bit of under-age drinking going on and that's what leads to the kids being a bit loud."

However, Provost Wyse did feel that a police presence on foot in the town more often – particularly at weekends – would go a long way to cracking down on such behaviour.

"That's what's really needed, more bobbies on the beat. We could do with more of that – however, the situation still isn't as bad as that letter in TheSouthern last week made out."

Century of care ends in tears
Bob Burgess

TEARS flowed this week as the last patients were moved out of Sister Margaret Cottage Hospital in Jedburgh.

There were similar scenes at Coldstream where the doors were also closed. Both hospitals have been axed by NHS Borders with the sanction of the Scottish Executive.

Campaigners who fought to retain the hospitals claimed the closures were part of a cost-cutting exercise – a charge denied by health service bosses who maintained they were part of a much-needed re-vamp to move the health service forward.

Staff members Carol Wright, Margaret Irving, Annie Stewart, Moira Kelly, above, prior to the closure. Photograph: Alastair Watson

The last patient moved out of Jedburgh on Tuesday and into the Borders General Hospital. Others have gone to the new Hawick community hospital and some have gone home. At Coldstream, patients have moved to The Inch at Kelso.

NHS Borders chairman Tony Taylor declared: "On behalf of the board, I would want to record my thanks and gratitude to all of the staff, both past and present, of Jedburgh and Coldstream hospitals for their personal service and for their major contribution to health care in these community hospitals."

Inside the Jedburgh hospital yesterday staff were preparing for the final shutdown. Minor emergency cover was being retained until 8am today

All that remained of more than a century of community care were memories and gratitude. Wards stood empty – beds stripped to the springs. In the deserted day-room a box full of well-read books and a battered box of draughts; a television and mini stereo bore the labels of their new destination – Millfield and Kelso.

On the walls of a corridor were colourful photos of happy Christmas parties, joyful concerts, proud visits by Jethart Callants; nurses and staff in comic dress, enthusiastic outings and merry birthday parties. We were told by one member of staff: "This is all so sad – very sad. They will realise in a few years time just how big a mistake they have made."

Looking at the photos another staff member told us: "The last patient left yesterday and when we came back into the hospital it was so very strange – no patients. We just stood still. It was so very quiet.

"There have been a lot of tears. Tears from patients, tears from their families and tears from staff."

But we were told that staff from the Sister Margaret had visited the Hawick hospital and found their former charges in good fettle. "They seem to be settling in fine after some early apprehension."

Jedburgh Provost Len Wyse who led the campaign to save the hospital stood in an empty ward and admitted: "This is a big blow to the town. I still believe that our case was not listened to – we had an excellent argument against closure, but it was ignored.

"I don't feel a lot just now but we have a meeting of our action group tonight and all this will really kick into me tomorrow."

Security guards move in today and tomorrow joiners will board up windows and doors.

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