Councillor’s cross-border unicorn plan “just a ruse to sell burgers”


A COUNCILLOR who wants a giant unicorn built on the border with England faces claims the scheme is more about selling burgers than boosting tourism.

Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown is calling for a giant sculpture of a unicorn – Scotland’s national animal – to be built at Carter Bar layby, where the A68 crosses the border.

The 78 year-old nationalist politician claims the Kelpies-inspired sculpture would increase traffic at the crossing – which has seen a 28% drop over the past decade despite the spectacular views.

Presenting his idea to locals, Cllr Brown said that a new tourist attraction could bring untold benefits to local towns and businesses across the region.

But Cllr Brown has now been accused of trying to “push his own business” – amid revelations that his wife owns a burger van at the beauty spot, which could benefit from increased traffic.

Credit: Doug Lees
Credit: Doug Lees

Speaking this week, Cllr Brown said: “I want to see a massive unicorn mare, on the scale of the Kelpies.

“She would symbolise Scotland and would stand proud with her horn facing north over our beautiful Borderland.

“Her name would be Scotia and she would pull thousands of visitors off the A1 and up the A68, which is by far the most scenic route in Scotland.”

But some locals reacted strongly to the revelation that Cllr Brown’s wife Jenny runs a burger van – The Borderer – set up at the famous elevated beauty spot.

It is thought that a boost in traffic could hugely benefit the van’s sales of burgers and other refreshments.

One unnamed local said: “I think he has broken the council’s code of conduct by trying to push his own business in this way.

“He has previously called for the car parks at the lay-by to be made bigger and for the road to be upgraded. I phoned up the council to complain but I got absolutely no satisfaction.”

But Cllr Brown said that the idea that there was a conflict of interest in his plans was wrong.

He said: “This is nonsense. Jenny no longer works at Carter Bar, having leased the business out to a local lady, so she basically gets the same rent regardless of how many hot dogs are sold.

“Anyway, this attraction is much bigger than a few burgers.

“You are always going to get folk who say why you shouldn’t do it but let’s get something of national significance to encourage traffic to use the A68, which would boost business in Jedburgh and right along the route.

Reacting to the suggestion that he should step aside from the project given the apparent conflict, he said he would not.

He explained: “I feel that I have personal knowledge of this and I live right beside the road, just a few miles from Carter Bar. The reduction in traffic has been really quite frightening.”

But Eben Wilson – head of Taxpayer Scotland – said: “Having made the suggestion and now being found to have mixed interests, the councillor should stand aside.

“Ideally ventures like this should be funded privately through public subscription, especially in times of austerity.”