A design for the repair and possible replacement of a collapsed retaining wall alongside the A72 road at Walkerburn is being drawn up by Scottish Borders Council officers.
That news, revealed at the latest full council meeting, does not mean the protracted dispute over who is responsible for the structure and who will pay for the required restoration work has been resolved, however.
The council insists that responsibility for maintaining the wall – a section of which was damaged when struck by a car three and a half years ago – rests with the owners of the adjacent properties at 34-41 Galashiels Road.
The owners have, in turn, denied liability and have appointed an Edinburgh firm of solicitors to represent them.
Patience, however, is wearing thin at the impasse amid fears that further deterioration of the wall, running the length of Galashiels Road, could result in the closure of the only route through the village.
At the meeting, Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell questioned the council’s position.
“It could be argued that as this wall in Walkerburn holds up the council’s road – the A72 – then it is the council’s responsibility to repair and restore it,” said Mr Bell.
“When will the council either repair this wall or constructively engage in mediation or arbitration to settle responsibility for repairing it?”
He was told by Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, the authority’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, that it remained the view of its officers that the council was not responsible.
“Under the terms of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, the responsibility for maintaining and repairing retaining walls which support adopted roadways falls to the owners of the particular wall,” said Mr Edgar.
“This responsibility is denied by the homeowners, who, through their insurers, have instructed solicitors to act in this matter.
“Council officers have been in discussion with these solicitors and, as part of that discussion, the matter of instructing an independent third party to settle the dispute has been raised.
“Council officers have offered to refer the matter to a third-party expert for independent resolution, but, so far, this offer has not been taken up.
“Council officers continue to monitor the state of the wall and, as a result of a review of the most recent inspection reports, it is proposed the council’s asset management section commences the design of the repair or replacement solution to the damaged wall.
“On completion of this process, the council will commence the legal process to have the wall repaired or replaced by the owners of the wall.”