Dalkeith residents lose appeal over park access

Controversial charges for entry to a country park will not be waived for local residents, bosses have said.

Thursday, 21st July 2016, 10:35 am
Updated Thursday, 21st July 2016, 11:42 am
Cllr Margot Russell at the entrance to Dalkeith Country Park. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Dalkeith Country Park charges £1 for a ‘day pass’ and also asks dog walkers to stump up a tenner for a year’s access.

The park – owned by the Duke of Buccleuch, one of Scotland’s richest men – has recently undergone a huge revamp.

Councillor Margot Russell unsuccessfully asked for residents of Dalkeith to be allowed free entry, pointing out a similar arrangement for access to Rosslyn Chapel.

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The Labour councillor said: “The work that has been done there is an enhancement to Dalkeith. It will bring visitors. It’s all aimed at visitors, which is good for local businesses. But local dog walkers shouldn’t have to pay. They live in the area, they contribute to the area, and the country park is part of them.

“A lot of them grew up using the park as children. It would be good to have a bit of ownership.

“It’s disappointing when you consider that a small organisation like Rosslyn Chapel gives free access to Roslin residents, but a very wealthy man like the Duke of Buccleuch is not able to grant a dispensation to local people. It’s easy enough to do with the electoral roll.

“Not only do you have to pay to get into the park, you have to pay extra to get into the 
adventure park. Families from our area will not be able to afford to participate in these things.

“The people that I have spoken to are mostly disappointed that they are having to pay. People think it’s a good idea, I’m getting a fair bit of support. I’ve had support for at least trying to get some sort of concession for locals.”

But her plea has fallen on deaf ears, with park chiefs insisting the entry fees will stand.

A spokesman said: “We would like to reiterate that there is a history of vandalism within the park and under the terms of the 2003 Land Reform Act the only way we are able to close the gates and ask irresponsible visitors to leave is through continuing to levy a nominal access charge – something the park has done for many years.

“This will not restrict access to responsible visitors and the charges in place are exactly the same as in previous years, only now instead of season passes we are issuing annual passes which allow access through the pedestrian gates.”