Calls for better road treatment as cold snap hits

Scottish Borders Council has insisted it is “using every resource available” to treat roads in icy conditions.

The authority came under fire from drivers and pedestrians this week who claimed roads and footpaths were “treacherous” after temperatures plummeted over the weekend.

Several reported minor accidents after their vehicles hit large areas of sheet ice.

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Commenting on the council’s Facebook page on Monday, Tamzin Thomas wrote: “The whole A698 from A68 to Kelso was lethal last night. I crashed at Bonjedward doing only 10-20mph. Surely this is a very main route?”

Carer Leanne Berry skidded off the B6436 Kelso to Morebattle road on the way home from work on Sunday evening.

She said: “The road was horrendous. I’d already skidded twice so was travelling very slow anyway, my brakes locked up and I spun out round and round until I went up a verge and ended up on the wrong side of the road with a car coming at me.

“Thankfully the other driver saw me and was able to slow down to avoid collision but my car is now damaged.

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Carers, ambulances and delivery drivers use these roads at all times of the day, daily – not just main routes.”

Pavements were also icy, with many residents reporting that their nearest salt bins were empty.

Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, has called on the council to ensure pavements and walkways are gritted after being contacted this week by a number of constituents raising concerns about icy pavements.

She said: “Obviously reports of slips and falls are always concerning, but I’m particularly concerned just now as NHS services are under huge strain due to the rising Covid rates.

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“Preventative action by the council to ensure as many pavements are gritted as possible could be a vital part of ensuring local NHS services aren’t overwhelmed.

“Of course we also have a duty to take care and stay home as much as possible to minimise risk, but when we must go out for exercise or essential supplies it’s important it’s made as safe as possible.”

Scottish Borders Council said that the weather conditions over the weekend and into Monday were “extremely challenging”.

Councillor Gordon Edgar, executive member for infrastructure, travel and transport, said: “The very specific weather conditions over the weekend and into Monday resulted in some challenging conditions, and these were expected to continue into Wednesday.

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“The council has almost 3,000km of roads to treat and whilst every resource was utilised over the weekend, and despite our primary and secondary routes being gritted, later rainfall washed some of the salt off and a significant drop in temperatures led to some very icy conditions overnight and into the morning.

“We appreciate that many Borderers will have experienced some difficult journeys by road or on foot, but we continue to use every resource available, including additional contractors, to ensure that all gritting routes are treated as quickly and effectively as possible and that we restock grit bins as necessary.

“As ever, we ask people to take notice of weather warnings and follow the advice, and at this time to also follow the Scottish Government guidance to stay at home for all but essential purposes.”

He added that the council would continue to carry out all winter maintenance in accordance with the Winter Service plan, including during the current lockdown period.