No crisis, insists council despite region’s pothole woes worsening

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Earlier this week, we published a story online about how Scottish Borders Council has vowed to repair a road in Galashiels before the town’s 2018 braw lads’ gathering.

The story attracted many comments on our Facebook page, and some included photos showing roads in other towns which our readers say need fixing.

The problem does seem to be worse now across the Borders region than ever before, so we have decided to publish our readers’ views on the matter (see below).

The council’s pledge to fix Scott Street in Galashiels came on the back of people expressing their concerns over the safety of the road for cyclists and motorists, as well as those who enjoy watching the braw lad and lass lead the cavalcade of horses as they speed up the hill on Gala’s big day.

Scott Street is one of the highlights of the gathering for many people, but the rutted potholes and damaged Tarmac patches were a worry ahead of the gallop.

However, a council spokesperson said: “Temporary repairs will be completed in time for Galashiels Braw Lads’ Day on Saturday, June 30, with a resurfacing project for a section of this road expected to be carried out in this financial year.”

While many people took to our Facebook post to back up concerns over that particular street’s safety, many other expressed their anger over why it is being fixed ahead of their own roads’ defects, some of which had been reported to the council several times.

Kalewater community councillor Tamzin Thomas sent us a photo of a massive pothole at Caverton, near Morebattle, 2m in diameter.

She said: “The huge pothole in question, along with several others at Caverton, was reported to the council by myself via their online facility on February 12, eight weeks ago.

“No repairs have been undertaken, nor have I had acknowledgement of my bringing it to their attention.

“I am aware of vehicles being damaged by it, and with the heavy agricultural vehicle use of the single-track road, it is deteriorating rapidly.

“Cars are now eroding the verge to avoid the hole, if drivers see it in time, to take evasive action.”

And talking about a patched repair on a road in his home town of Peebles, Marc Holness wrote: “If this is the quality of repair that we should expect, I believe the council want to have a word with themselves.

“This was ‘repaired’ today (09/04/2018). If it lasts more than a few days, I’ll eat the kerb!”

He added: “They spent the day doing these ‘repairs’ in various locations. This is the third or fourth time this location has been patched.

“I wonder how many more times they will waste time and money doing this instead of doing the repair properly?”

This week, Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, the council’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, denied that roads in the Borders are at crisis point.

However, he did admit that more funding is required to keep on top of the matter.

He said: “We have a limited budget for repairs to potholes. This is determined by the council.

“What you have to realise is that the council has all its other services to fund, so the funding is allocated on a priority basis. How we prioritise it is through the evidence that we get.

“The revenue budget for the roads is not substantial enough to maintain the roads in a proper condition.

“We should be spending more money, but it’s money we haven’t got.

“We did get an allocation of an extra £1.8m from the Scottish Government for the roads, which should help.

“However, we have had two really bad spells of weather recently – the Beasts from the East – and that has caused serious problems and the damage that was done has increased.”

Mr Edgar is hoping the Bellwin scheme, giving special financial assistance to local authorities facing an undue financial burden as a result of carrying out immediate work due to large-scale emergencies can help.

He said: “If we can prove that there has been extensive damage to the roads caused by the extreme weather conditions, we can claim cash used for the repair works through the Scottish Government.

“Those works have to be done within two months of the damage being done, so any claims have to be done by the end of April.

“Therefore, we are refocusing the workforce onto those situations, which kind of takes the focus off the immediate repairs.”

He added: “We are fighting a battle all the time, and even the £10m that has been allocated nationwide by the Scottish Government is not sufficient. I could spend that £10m now, in the Borders, never mind Scotland, and still only bring the roads up to a reasonable condition.

“There will be potholes waiting to be attended to across the region.

“The trick is to keep complaining. It will be looked at.”

Welcoming the latest £10m additional grant from the Scottish Government, Hans Waltl, the Federation of Small Businesses’ area leader for the east of Scotland, said local firms are feeling the pinch because of the state of the roads.

He said: “We have consistently called for national action to tackle the deteriorating state of our local roads, made worse by this year’s run of bad weather. The simple truth is that poorly-maintained local roads make it more difficult and costly to do business.

“What Scotland needs is strategic long-term solution to the endemic problem of roads maintenance and repair but, in the meantime, the Scottish Government’s announcement of £10m for investment across Scotland’s local authorities is hugely welcome.

“It might also be worth exploring ways to boost local infrastructure spending by making the most of investment opportunities provided by Borderlands growth deal.

“Scottish Borders Council spends below than the Scottish average on roads maintenance per kilometre, so the promise of additional resources will hopefully see significant improvements to the condition of our local roads.”

Readers’ views on potholes
Graeme Brown

Why is it only getting fixed now? Not everything revolves around the common riding. What about all the other roads that are in the same state? Will they all be fixed for all the other common ridings in the Borders?

Marc Holness

A lot of the Borders’ road conditions are in a dangerous state.

A lot of the time on the main roads you have to make a decision between either hitting the pothole and damaging your car and potentially being involved in an accident, or swerving to avoid the potholes, potentially putting you at risk of colliding with other vehicles. If the road was a workplace, it would be shut down as a health and safety risk.

Louise Riddell

It’s an accident waiting to happen for motorcycles too. I drive up this road slowly now because I don’t want my car damaged as I know others have been.

It’s a disgrace the state it’s in. Why waste money doing a temporary repair. Why not do the job properly in the first place?

Greg Magee

We should refuse to pay our road tax until the roads are up to a decent standard.

It’s shocking having to pay it for the state of the roads.

Linsey Carpenter

It could do with all the loose stone chips being swept up off the pavement. All the broken-up Tarmac is everywhere, especially on the bits of pavement at the end of each parking bay. My mum usually parks her car away around the corner because of all the stones getting thrown up by passing cars.

Steve Wilson

Thank God for that. It’s a disgrace going up to my Scott street shop and nearly on the other side of the road dodging the potholes. The whole street needs doing.

Bryan Johnstone

Castle Street, Kirk Wynd, Castle Terrace and the Loan in Selkirk are a total disgrace. The Castle Street pothole nearly takes up half the road.

Maybe Gordon Egdar, who is in charge of the roads, should take a long hard look at them, or does he just see the main trunk roads?

Debbie Charles

Scott Street was patched a few weeks past and it’s worse already! Do the job properly this time for cars’ sake, not just because gala day is coming up.

Tricia Mcgurk

The roads will just get patched, then next downpour it will all lift again. The roads are awful and damaging cars.

Linda Godsell

The whole of Gala needs done and the kerbs should be a bit lower. Some of them are impassable for wheelchairs.

Sonya Szatylowicz

About time. I avoid it like the plague. I always wondered why they stopped at the Scott Street gates when they did the other half of the road .

John Mcphee

Innerleithen High Street’s an absolute joke, too.

When was the last time any attention was given to that?

Stephen Mathison

Scott Street is a disgrace! It’s like someone has been pinching the Tarmac!

Mind you, have you seen the far end of Walkershaugh in Peebles just as you go into the Gytes? You have to drive on the opposite side of the road it is that bad.

Cairistiona Bates

They have patched Earlston High Street, but it’s still a complete state, it really needs properly resurfaced, not filling in, which inevitably lasts weeks at most.

Jasmine Bellingham

Why can’t people just be happy that that part of road is finally getting repaired? Yeah, it says good news to gala day riders or whatever, but it’s more good news for drivers. The road you all love for being bumpy and damaged is being fixed. It’s not just horses that ride that road. ✌

Laura Green

About time the road was looked at and fixed properly!

What about the road just before the Kingsknowes roundabout coming from the Melrose side?

You can only be in the right lane as the left is a right state and has been like that for years!

Fiona Schofield

Never mind gala day. It should be repaired for us mugs who pay to have their cars on the road and then get wrecked because of Scottish Borders Council’s negligence. It’s disgraceful.

Parker Wendy

It is getting repaired (patched)? If so, why no just burn the tax payers’ cash cos it will be bad again the following week.

Brian Riddell

Howegate in Hawick was probably smoother when horseback was the main form of transport. It’s a disgrace!

George-Christine Routledge

George-Christine Routledge The road from Yetholm to Kelso is ridiculous, i’m surprised no one has damaged their car, especially in the dark as there are loads of them and some big and deep ones too.

Alastair Murray

If I remember correctly this street looks like the Gala slalom course. Money would have been better spent mending the roads than spending on creating obstacles to suit the EU.

Tommy Hill

Most of the roads and side streets are a bloody disgrace in Gala. Remind me why I pay the inflated council and road tax again?

Rikie Mcleod

Every year we have to spend hundreds of pounds making sure our cars are safe to be on the roads, yet it’s the state of the roads that’s damaging the cars.

It’s just a shame roads don’t have to go through a yearly check to make sure they are safe for use. The state of the roads in the Borders is a joke. What’s it going to take? People getting injured or killed before something’s done? There’s enough deaf dumb and blind drivers on the road without the Tarmac itself being a hazard.

Tony Brown

It should be done properly. Not just half measures

Marmo Young

Selkirk, from below the court up to the tennis courts, is so smooth it’s a pleasure driving on it.

Dougie Frame

Why does this road have to be fixed for one day of the year?

Robert Herriot

Every road in the country needs fixed.

Tommy Quinn Snr

Manhole cover just east of Priorsford footbridge on Kingsmeadows Road, Peebles, is sinking again. A lot of the roads in the Borders are a disgrace.

Leah Howden

The Howegate and the Loan in Hawick are getting worse by the second. The patch-ups are making it all worse.

Steve Aitchison

Serious question – what would happen if I decided to fill in some of the worst potholes with concrete?

I’ve driven the A68 down to Newcastle twice this week so far and almost wrecked my suspension in a few places. Maybe if we all started doing amateur repairs and sending in photographs of our work (along with an invoice for our trouble) the council would get the message.

Harry Thomson

Innerleithen High Street is shocking.

Becca Tait

About time! I just hope Scottish Borders Council can repair the potholes quicker than they can build a bridge (Lowood)!

Chris Page

There are several around the Parkside Prinary School area in Jedburgh that are an absolute disgrace.

Can’t avoid them, either, because of parked cars.