Council set to focus on dug-up roads

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SCOTTISH Borders Council is to step up the inspection of roads damaged after being dug up by utility companies.

The commitment was given last week by Councillor Jim Fullarton, executive member for roads and infrastructure.

He was responding to his Tory backbench colleague Gavin Logan who claimed “a large percentage” of the potholes on streets and roads in the region appeared at points which had recently been reinstated.

“As this reinstatement is carried by utility companies, can the council insist this work is carried out to a higher standard?” asked Councillor Logan.

Mr Fullarton said the extreme weather of the last two winters had resulted in an increased rate of deterioration across the entire council road network, leaving many roads potholed and in poor condition.

“There is no statistical evidence that measures the extent of deterioration directly attributable to public utility openings,” he stated. “However, I believe any action that opens up a road surface compromises its long-term life.”

Mr Fullarton said that SBC already had an officer on a working group – the Roads Authorities and Utility Companies Committee (Scotland) – which has set a national agreement on reinstatement specification and standards, depending on road type and surface. These standards were currently under review.

“This council carries out a random sample of inspections on utility openings at various stages throughout the works where defects are noted, such as trench settlement and edge deterioration, which can ultimately lead to potholes. These are reported directly to the utility company concerned, through the Scottish Road Works Register.

“Utility companies are responsible for the condition of their openings for a two-year period, after which the responsibility lies with the council.

“We are going to increase the priority of inspection of such reinstatements to ensure they are up to the nationally-defined quality levels that will minimise the risk of future failures.”