Roof fears as storm hits Borders

Wind damage from one of the houses on Birks View in Galashiels. Pieces of debris  have blow off roofs into the street.
Wind damage from one of the houses on Birks View in Galashiels. Pieces of debris have blow off roofs into the street.
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AS the Borders was once again battered by extreme weather conditions, communities across the region are counting the cost.

Winds of around 80 miles per hour brought down trees, closed roads, left 1,200 homes without power and damaged buildings.

And it led to a building firm boss promising to investigate the 31-home Birks View development in Galashiels after householders said they have been scared to leave their homes due to falling roofwork for the second time in a month.

One resident, Emma Gunter, had two windows of her car smashed during Tuesday’s storms by a section of her roof, and along with neighbours, believes Peebles-based developers Tweed Homes should be taking responsibility.

Ms Gunter said: “I was in the kitchen at about 9.10am when I heard a noise like snow falling off the roof and then heard the car windows smash.

“I found the wooden part of the roof stuck in the car.

“It was really quite scary and very dangerous for people living here.

“It seems too much of a coincidence that the same problem has happened to other houses on the street.

“My car is less than a year old and it is pretty heartbreaking, but the fear is someone could get hurt.”

Neighbour Angus Fairnie, whose home has also been damaged, added: “This is the second time this has happened in four weeks.

“I would say there has been tile problems with at least 50 per cent of the homes. I think Tweed Homes have a responsibility, morally or otherwise, to take a look at our roofs.

“The main concern has to be for the people living on the street. If someone is hit by one of these tiles they could be killed.”

Fellow Birks View resident Peter Wilson told us: “When spring comes round I think I will have to pay to get the whole roof fixed and that will likely cost a couple of thousand pounds.

“With climate change, high winds are likely to become more common and this could happen again and again unless something is done.”

Tweed Homes managing director Andy Pearson insists there is no design fault, but did promise his company would look into the roofing issue.

Mr Pearson told TheSouthern: “We have had some exceptional weather on Tuesday and last month. Birks View, which was built four years ago, is right on the top of (Meigle) hill in Galashiels and is bound to get strong winds.

“It is not due to bad workmanship. But if there is collateral damage to vehicles and properties we have to go up and examine it.”

Meanwhile, around 100 homes were still without power yesterday, among them Ettrick Valley farmer Richard Scott – the 14th time he and 13 neighbouring households have been left powerless in the past month.

Fallen trees had once again damaged power lines near Tushielaw, with electricity cut off at 9.30am on Tuesday and not expected to be reconnected until 6pm on Wednesday.

Mr Scott said: “We have been told ScottishPower will take down the trees in mid-January but if we get bad weather, they might not be able to get up here until March.

“We have found out the problem is not only affecting us but the upper Ettrick Valley as well.

“There are disabled people living there and without power for heating there could be serious consequences such as a death and then they (ScottishPower) would be in trouble.”

Police reported a total of 15 roads were shut at some point on Tuesday due to falling trees.

A furniture delivery van was blown off the road while travelling on the A7 near Hawick, but the driver escaped uninjured.

Inspector Mike Wynne said 50 weather-related calls were made to the police in 12 hours.

He added: “We worked closely with Scottish Borders Council’s emergency planning team to deal with incidents across the region.”

Meanwhile, mobile phone operator Vodafone said some of its Borders’ customers were still experiencing signal problems due to power cuts.