Furore over potholes contnues despite £2.6m being spent on repairing Borders roads

Stephen Winyard surveying potholes in Cross Street, Peebles.
Stephen Winyard surveying potholes in Cross Street, Peebles.

The furore over problematic potholes across the region is growing despite Scottish Borders Council revealing plans to carry out £2.6m worth of repairs on road surfaces left in disrepair by the wintry weather dubbed the Beast from the East.

A total of 32 roads in the Borders are to be improved as part of a resurfacing programme this year, it has been announced.

The programme is predominantly funded by an additional £1.8m investment agreed in February as part of the council’s budget for the coming year.

The remainder is from the council’s capital budget, and further cash is expected to be forthcoming as part of a nationwide £10m handout promised by the Scottish Government in April.

The majority of the programme targets key routes through towns and villages.

It’s an investment that can’t come soon enough after the damage caused by recent bad weather leading to reports of widespread potholes causing major problems for motorists.

A typical case is that of nurse Anne Dutton, of Clovenfords.

Anne was travelling on the A72 Hamilton-to-Galashiels eastbound carriageway last Thursday morning when her Vauxhall Insignia hit what she describes as “the mother of all potholes”.

On parking up, she found one tyre was completely flat and that an alloy trim had been damaged.

She had to fork out more than £200 for a new tyre and for wheel alignment work.

Anne is now seeking compensation from thecouncil.

She said: “It was the mother of all potholes. It was 6ft long and 4in deep.

“I am furious. I only got the car in October.

“It is clear from the size and amount of potholes that they did not occur overnight.

“The council has a duty to ensure the roads in the Borders are maintained and kept in a state conducive to safe driving.”

Her plight echoes that of dozens of our readers who got in touch with us last month following a story we ran online about potholes in Scott Street, Galashiels.

The council, however, says it is doing the best it can with limited resources to spend on a road network of almost 1,900 miles.

Council leader Shona Haslam said: “The announcement of this resurfacing programme will be welcomed by Borderers after our road network suffered significant damage following the Beast from the East.

“While we have announced this resurfacing programme, it is still important that residents help us identify issues to allow our officers to investigate.

“However, we do have 3,000 km of road and would ask for members of the public to show a little bit of patience and understanding during this extremely difficult and challenging time for the council.”

Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, the authority’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, agreed, saying: “While I appreciate that this extra funding will make a difference, we have to keep our focus on improving the condition of our entire 3,000km road network.

“The council has committed to investing over £22m in roads and bridges over the next three years, with £79m planned investment over the next 10 years. This includes the additional £1.8m investment for 2018-19 to target road repairs across the region.”

A council spokesman added: “The council has been carrying inspections of all roads in the Borders to assess the damage since the extreme winter weather experienced in late February and early March.

“These surveys have identified over 700 sections of damaged roadway associated with the extreme winter weather across the 3,000km network in the Borders.

“The council has already commenced a programme of works to repair this identified damage, but this will take a number of weeks to complete.”

Roads earmarked for repairs include Oxnam Road in Jedburgh, Chiefswood Road in Melrose, Earlston High Street, the aforesaid Scott Street in Galashiels, the A701 at Romannobridge, Viewfield Park and the Valley in Selkirk, Caberston Road in Walkerburn, Kingsmeadows Gardens in Peebles and Oakfield Court in Kelso.

Five roads in Hawick are also to be resurfaced – Bourtree Place, Overhall Road, Weensland Road, Howdenbank and Ettrick Terrace.

Another Borderer unhappy about the state of the region’s roads is business boss Stephen Winyard, and he’s putting his money where his mouth is by offering to help council chiefs pay for much-needed road repairs in and around his home town of Peebles.

Stephen, managing director of the nearby Stobo Castle hotel and spa, has made an ex-gratia payment of £10,000 to Scottish Borders Council to go towards the cost of filling in potholes

He has urged the council’s chief executive, Tracey Logan, to use that windfall to survey and repair at the earliest opportunity the worst of the pavements and potholes that “are so blighting my home town of Peebles”.

He added: “This is not only for the safety and wellbeing of residents but to project Peebles in a far better light as a destination of choice, especially with the oncoming tourist season that is so vital to our local economy.

“In no way should this be construed as a criticism of the roads department. They have done a Herculean job in keeping our roads clear during the most extreme weather conditions we have experienced for many years.

“The reality is that they have been left with an unprecedented backlog of repairs, all to be addressed within the constraints of a finite budget.

“I hope this contribution will be seen as a positive example of how the private sector and the public sector can work together to everyone’s mutual advantage.”

The businessman highlighted Cross Street in Peebles as one of the worst-affected locations, saying: “It’s like a war zone there.

“It’s impossible to navigate without hitting a pothole.”

A council spokesperson said: “The council appreciates Mr Winyard’s gesture as part of his ongoing commitment to the Tweeddale area.

“Officers will now consider how we could get best value for the local roads network with this donation.”