Ministers urged to act now to stop our roads going to pot

Hawick councillor Davie Paterson on the B6399 to Newcastleton from Hawick.
Hawick councillor Davie Paterson on the B6399 to Newcastleton from Hawick.

A campaigning councillor is urging the Scottish Government to rethink its funding formula for repairing ravaged roads in the Borders.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson is backing the Southern Reporter’s Stop Us Going to Pot campaign in a bid to get the region on the right road to a less bumpy future.

Pothole problems are easily the biggest bugbear his constituents bring to his attention, he says, adding that he’s had more complaints about them in the last year than he had in all his previous 29 years as councillor.

He’s hoping the soon-to-be-created south of Scotland enterprise agency will make repairs to the region’s road infrastructure a top priority, but, like motorists throughout the Borders, he believes the problem is too pressing to wait another two or three years.

Mr Paterson wants the agency to persuade ministers to spend more money on roads recently battered by the snowstorms dubbed the Beast from the East.

However, time is not on the side of that aspiration as the agency is not due to be up and running until 2020.

Because of the urgent need for action, he wants the south of Scotland economic partnership, an interim body set up to help found the enterprise agency, to take up that issue ahead of schedule and is seeking meetings with government ministers in a bid to drive things forward.

He would also like to see action by Scottish Borders Council and Transport Scotland in the meantime.

He said “I would certainly urge the south of Scotland enterprise partnership to act as expediently as possible to get this agency up and running before 2020, if possible, but like everything else it will have to be looked at and set up to see that all areas are getting some economic benefits.

“I’ve had so many complaints this year about potholes not being filled in, more than in all my previous 29 years as a councillor.

“It’s got so bad that folk are not going out in their cars at night to visit family and friends because of the risks.

“It’s just got to be this administration’s top priority.

“I am trying to arrange meetings with government transport minister Humza Yousaf to see if there is anything further that we can do to push things forward. Time is against us.”

One concern already highlighted by Mr Paterson is the likely impact on the region’s roads of plans to vastly expand forestry operations here, leading to an upsurge in the amount of timber lorries travelling around the Borders, and that’s already been highlighted as something the new enterprise agency should look at.

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There is only one way the region’s potholes problems are going to be brought under control, and that’s to keep pointing them out to those responsible.

That’s Amey, acting for Transport Scotland, for trunk roads – as in the A7 south of Galashiels, the A68, the A1, the A702 and A6091 – and Scottish Borders Council for all other routes.

Details of how to make a complaint about a pothole can be found online at www.scotborders.gov.uk/info/20031/roads_and_pavements/616/report_a_pothole_or_road_problem or by calling 0300 100 1800.

It’s also important to keep this matter in the public eye, and that’s where our Stop Us Going to Pot campaign comes in.

Any Southern readers wanting to see action taken on potholes can bring them to our attention too – as well as reporting them to the council or Amey – by commenting on the online version of this story and those to follow in the months ahead, ideally attaching photos of the stretches of road affected, and we’ll do our best to push for them to be fixed and seek answers if they’re not.