Potholes could put spoke in wheels of plans to boost cycling tourism, Borders council warned

A cyclist out and about in The Borders this week, on the A699 near Selkirk.
A cyclist out and about in The Borders this week, on the A699 near Selkirk.

Scottish Borders Council has been taken to task over the state of the region’s roads and warned it could put a spoke in the wheels of efforts to boost cycling tourism here.

Galashiels councillor Harry Scott today voiced concerns about the state of the B709 Heriot to Innerleithen road, designated as a cycling route but, he says, in “a state of serious disrepair”.

Galashiels councillor Harry Scott.

Galashiels councillor Harry Scott.

At a full meeting of the council, Mr Scott asked for the road to be resurfaced, saying: “The B709 Heriot-to-Innerleithen road is listed as an official Borders cycle route with the aim of attracting touring cyclists to enjoy the scenery and spend money in the Borders.

“Several sections of the road, particularly towards Innerleithen, are presently in a state of serious disrepair and hazardous not only for cars but particularly for cyclists.

“May I ask that at the least the most hazardous sections of the B709 be considered for inclusion as a matter of priority in the roads department’s scheme of works and overlays for the year 2019-20.”

In response, Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, the council’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, told the chamber: “The road is inspected every two months in accordance with the council’s policy and standards guidelines.

“Any defects noted during these inspections are recorded and instructions are issued to carry out reactive maintenance as required within the timescale guidelines.

“Maintenance of the council’s adopted road network is programmed by our asset team.

“Some sections of the B709 road are listed as ‘being considered for possible inclusion’ in future surface treatment programmes.

“Unfortunately, the overall condition of our roads network means that we are not in a position to agree to treat all identified sections with a permanent form of treatment and must apply a prioritisation process to determine an annual programme which means our annual budget.”

In a prepared statement, Mr Scott said: “My reasons are that we are selling the Scottish Borders to tourists, cycling being one of the strands.

“The B709 leads from the Edinburgh and Lothians area to the heart of Borders cycling in the Innerleithen and Peebles areas.

“Like any tourists, we hope that they will extend their stay and their exploration of the Borders from that base.

“The B709 is no better or worse than many of our other roads, and I’m not looking for a quick fixes because in the current financial climate, there are none.

“I’m simply asking that the road is not forgotten in the work schedule, and that at the least the worst sections can be identified for improvement or repair.”