Common Riding cannot take place in its customary way
THERE will be no Langholm Cornet this year.
The inevitable but shock decision was made by the Common Riding trustees and members on Tuesday.
The unprecedented international health crisis, which is endangering thousands of people’s lives in the UK, has forced their hand, with the election due on Friday, May 8.
In a statement issued to the E&L Advertiser, Roger Maxwell, chairman, speaking for the trustees and members, said: “Under the current circumstances, Langholm Common Riding 2020 cannot take place in its customary way.
“Should restrictions be lifted sufficiently by the end of July, it may be possible to celebrate the Common Riding in a limited way and every effort will be made to mark the boundaries.
“We will assess the situation and act accordingly but the public meeting on May 8 is cancelled, along with the election of Cornet.
“The outbreak of coronavirus is an event the like of which none of us has ever experienced and, as can be seen by the draconian measures imposed by the UK and Scottish governments, only drastic action is likely to eradicate it.”
The Common Riding has been held since 1759 and only the two world wars and the foot and mouth outbreaks in 1952 and 2001 curtailed the celebrations.
Both governments implemented measures on Monday to bring the country into lockdown which has had a huge impact on communities in
Eskdale and Liddesdale.
The schools in Langholm, Canonbie and Newcastleton closed last Friday and all exams have been cancelled. Grades will be based on pupils’ preliminary exam results and assignments.
Panic-buying of food and other essentials has been a problem, leaving shelves empty, and shops have now set aside times when only the elderly and key workers can shop.
Since Monday, the Co-op in Langholm has let emergency service staff into the store from 30 minutes before it opens to the public.
This is at 6.30am from Monday to Saturday and 7.30am on Sunday. They just need to show staff their ID when entering and they will be allowed in.
A slot is also set aside for vulnerable customers between 8am and 9am from Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 11am on Sunday.
Social distancing measures are now in place and the store is marked with tape to indicate how far apart everyone should be. Shoppers are asked to respect these and show patience because it may take longer to get round the store when busy.
It’s not currently implementing card only payment but, if possible, this method of payment is preferred to increase safety.
A move to limit the number of customers in the store at any one time is being implemented.
Customers have asked about phone deliveries and management is working on a solution.
The Cumberland Building Society has closed its branches in Langholm, Longtown, Lockerbie and Gretna, prompting complaints from customers that this will force them to travel unnecessarily and prevent others from being able to get cash.
A spokesperson said the closures were done to protect colleagues and continue to serve customers as well as it could in the current circumstances.
All staff would be relocated and there would be additional social distancing for the safety of both customers and staff to limit face-to-face interactions and ensure there are enough healthy staff to provide a continued service over the coming weeks and months.
Current account customers could continue to use the internet and mobile banking.
David Mundell, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP, raised the community’s concerns in Langholm about the difficulties which some, mainly older people, faced in obtaining cash.
Mr Mundell highlighted with the society the importance of the Langholm branch, particularly since the closure of the town’s post
He said: “The Cumberland’s six-day-a-week counter service is greatly valued by customers who do not use a bank card.
“It is important something is put in place to ensure that those facing difficulties can have secure and easy access to their cash.
“I have highlighted these concerns to Des Moore, chief executive, and, although he was unable to change his decision, he reassured me about the longer-term future of the branch after the current crisis is over.”
Mr Mundell highlighted his constituents’ concerns to Dumfries and Galloway Council’s community issues service.
Langholm’s flagship High Street store has also made the difficult decision to close in line with government advice.
Latimers will, for the time being, still be able to make small deliveries and leave items in safe places, accepting payments over the phone in line with social distancing measures.
They said: “We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our wonderful customers for their continued support. It really is appreciated.”