Scottish Borders Council's pay-outs for insurance claims caused by damaged road surfaces is more than £56k this year

Scottish Borders Council has paid out more than £56,000 for insurances claims in the current financial year as a result of vehicles damaged due to the poor condition of the region’s roads, councillors will be informed next week.

By Paul Kelly
Friday, 7th January 2022, 1:49 pm
Updated Friday, 7th January 2022, 1:49 pm
Pothole patching only option?
Pothole patching only option?

A total of 134 claims have been made in the period since last April, with 131 of those now settled.

That figure comes despite 11,776 of the authority’s 25,893 gullies having been cleaned over the same period.

Statistics reveal that potholes remain the biggest bugbear for motorists and pedestrians alike – with 1,079 complaints.

In total 43.5 per cent of the Borders road network requires some form of repair.

But the local authority only has the resources to meet between two to three percent of those repairs each financial year.

It means that ‘patching up’ the network is seen as the best solution in the current economic climate.

The matters are to be addressed when members of the council’s Audit and Scrutiny Committee meet via videolink on Thursday, January 13 to consider the authority’s roads and infrastructure performance.

In his report John Curry, the council’s director of Infrastructure and Environment, says: “Unfortunately, the deterioration of the roads infrastructure and the amount

of resource allocated towards its maintenance means that it is not possible to undertake planned permanent repairs in all circumstances due to cost/resource constraints.

“A further complication is that weather conditions, particularly during winter, are not conducive to carrying out permanent or significant repairs. This is mainly due to the presence of water both on the surface and throughout the various layers of the road construction and the continual freeze-thaw process at this time of year, which leads to the creation of further damage.

“We therefore operate an approach of using planned permanent and temporary repairs which, when complemented with cyclic interventions, contributes to a strategy of minimising interventions and where interventions are required, that they are as effective and long lasting as possible.

“With 43.5 per cent of the network requiring some type of surface treatment and the fact that we can address between two and three per cent of the network each year, sometimes the only solution is to patch a site and continue to do so at specific intervals rather than carry out a full resurface.”

Mr Curry says a review-based view is taken on defects, which can mean that some defects are not judged a priority.

He added: “This is of course a challenging process to complete and requires the council to ensure that staff are trained and competent to make such assessments.”

In response to the pothole issues, the service has doubled its jet patching fleet by purchasing a second machine and have trialled a new innovative approach to achieving more permanent repairs of potholes using the JCB Pot Hole Pro.

Mr Curry said: “The Pot Hole Pro combines the tasks of three other machines, thereby increasing the efficient operation of the fleet, reducing the number of vehicles on site and enabling repairs to be undertaken under convoy rather than a full road closure.

“We expect to receive the machine in early 2022 and are developing our operational approach to its deployment in advance of its arrival.”