Work on Hawick flood defences a health hazard for staff, claims garage boss

A garage boss claims contractors carrying out flood defence works next to his business are putting the health of his staff at risk and fears that could lead to a walkout.

Wednesday, 8th July 2020, 4:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th July 2020, 5:55 pm
Adam Massey, owner of G-Sport Autocentres in Hawick's Teviot Crescent, with mechanics Michael Harkness and Stuart Richmond.

Adam Massey, owner of G-Sport Autocentres in Hawick’s Teviot Crescent for the past five years, says he has been left in limbo since work on the town’s £89m flood defence scheme reached its door.

He says his four staff have been coughing and spluttering because of dust created by contractors preparing to build a flood protection wall close to the front of his premises.

Mr Massey has asked Scottish Borders Council’s flood protection scheme team to either pay compensation so he can close his garage for two weeks while the work is carried out or redirect the works away from his property, but neither suggestion has been taken up and negotiations have stalled.

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Mr Massey said: “They are building the flood wall right across the front of our premises. As it is at the minute, when they build the wall, they are actually taking the access completely away from the garage, so they are putting in some temporary doors out the side.

“I said to the guy from the flood protection scheme that we can’t work in this. There is dust everywhere, and the lads are coughing and choking in the garage.

“I told them there are two options – either stop the work and think of something different or close us down for two weeks and pay us compensation, carry out the work and then we can all come back and work safely – but the Hawick flood protection scheme is refusing to go either way, and they are saying if we don’t have this work done, we are going to have no access when we put the wall up.

“The lads are saying they’re not working in this environment as it’s not safe. They’re breathing in dust and listening to jackhammers all day.

“I only have two options – I throw the builders off site or the staff walk. I’m in limbo.

“Do we have to risk our health to go to work, or do we have no access in a year or two, whenever they put the wall up? That’s the predicament we are in.

“Where they are building the flood wall, they said to me that my right of access was 2.4m from the property, so that once a flood wall is built you will be able to just get past with a car.

“I have asked them for evidence that is the access I will have and am entitled to and they have not come back to me on that, so I think they have pushed ahead with this flood wall with no regards to anyone’s rights.

“I think they have planned the wall with no consideration for my property and probably others as well. I have two neighbours who have had similar issues with them.”

A council spokesperson said: “There was an issue involving dust from works close to Mr Massey’s premises on Monday.

“Flood protection scheme managers spoke to the sub-contractor involved and apologised to Mr Massey.

“We are speaking to Mr Massey about his suggestion to close his premises temporarily to allow these necessary flood protection advance works to proceed unhindered and are confident that a mutually satisfactory solution will be found.”