Park strife as free entry bid is rejected

Cllr Margot Russell at the entrance to the park
Cllr Margot Russell at the entrance to the park

Dalkeith councillor Margot Russell has spoken of her disappointment at failing to persuade Dalkeith Country Park to let locals in for free.

Councillor Russell (Lab) had written to the recently redeveloped park’s owner the Duke of Buccleuch, asking for special dispensation for Dalkeith residents from the entry fee, just as Rosslyn Chapel allows Roslin residents in for free.

She 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 any of these things.

“I tried complaining about the charge and he said no. I tried to get free access for Dalkeith residents and he said no. So I don’t know the way forward.”

A spokesman for Dalkeith Country Park 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.”