Council needs to step up its repair quality

The "repaired" step in Selkirk's Forest Road.
The "repaired" step in Selkirk's Forest Road.

It’s one of the perennial items to be brought up at Selkirk Community Council meetings – the dire state of the town’s network of steps.

Given the difference in elevation between the upper and lower parts of the town, there are probably more steps here than in any other Borders town, and they are all well used.

There have been calls for months to fix the steps

There have been calls for months to fix the steps

However, their general state of decay has made them either difficult or dangerous to negotiate.

One of the worst examples until recently was the steps that give direct access from the bottom to the top of the winding Forest Road.

Imagine residents’ delight when recently council workers were seen fixing the steps at the bottom of the upper flight.

However, that delight was certainly short-lived as the shoddy repair already looks like it will need seeing to again soon.

In fact, it appears as if the overriding remit was to keep the steps looking in keeping with the others around it.

The new mortar is already crumbling away, and the finished look is certainly not what you would expect. And bad weather certainly can’t be used as an excuse.

One Forest Road resident, Douglas Anderson, took these photos of the steps before and after they were ‘repaired’, and it’s not that easy to tell the difference.

Douglas said: “Why bother, if this is the standard of repair?

“I’ll give it a week, and it will be just as bad.”

When we approached Scottish Borders Council this week, a spokesman told us: “The neighbourhoods team says the mortar on the steps will be reinstated.

“Steps are checked as part of the ongoing inspection regime, and any further safety issues will be addressed when identified or brought to the council’s attention.”

Also on the community council’s list of urgent local improvements is the Fleshmarket steps, which show “serious deterioration of concrete surface, especially on lower flights, with public safety issues”.

It recommends “urgent replacement with natural stone, to maintain character of the refurbished Market Place and the quality of the ongoing sheriff courthouse project”.

The Sentryknowe steps were also mentioned at the last community council meeting by Selkirkshire councillor Caroline Penman, who said that workers who were about to start repair work on the bottom three steps, all broken, and want to move the handrail from the centre to the side in order that it can support the step structure.

● What do you think of Selkirk’s network of steps? Are the ones you use regularly in disrepair? Tell us, by emailing kevin.janiak@jpress.co.uk