Borders roads among the worst in Scotland

Pot holes like this in Coldstream's Market Square are becoming an all too familiar sight in the Borders
Pot holes like this in Coldstream's Market Square are becoming an all too familiar sight in the Borders

The Borders’ 2,968 km road network has deteriorated faster than that of any other Scottish local authority over the past three years.

That is one of the findings of a new report – called Monitoring Scotland’s Roads – published by spending watchdog Audit Scotland.

The report found that there was a significant variation across the country in how the condition of local roads changed between 2011 and 2015. And Scottish Borders Council is at the bottom of the pile.

Survey results show that for 18 councils the proportion of their local roads in acceptable condition increased, while for 14 councils, including ours, service levels deteriorated.

“The extent of variation ranged from an improvement in acceptable conditions of 11% in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in the Western Isles to a deterioration of 9% in Scottish Borders Council,” states the report.

Across Scotland, the condition of council-maintained roads has remained stable, with around 63% in “acceptable condition” over the three years.

In the Borders, that figure stands at 54.5%.

“The council selected to invest an additional £67.3m in roads maintenance over 20 years,” states the report. “This is projected to slow down the ate of decline and achieve a target of 55% of roads in acceptable condition.”

Responding to the data, a council spokesperson said: “While the council continues to be faced with ongoing financial challenges, our current budgets still outline considerable investment across a wide range of key services, including roads.

“The 2016-17 capital plan announced in February includes a commitment over the next 10 years to invest £69.6m in roads and bridges – an increase of £36.3m since 2012/13.

“It also included increased revenue spending on roads of £500,000 a year over the next five years – a 14% increase per annum on the previous revenue budget.

“This represents an additional £2.5m investment over the five years of the budget plan.

“The council continues to adopt an asset management approach to its road network and, wherever possible, maximises budgets by identifying alternative road treatment options which prolong the life of the road.”

Borders MSP John Lamont said: “For motorists in the Borders, this report will merely confirm what most already know – that our local roads are in a terrible condition.

“Our roads are fast becoming an embarrassment, putting motorists at risk and, as this report points out, harming local businesses.

“The current approach of cheaply patching up the worst potholes is simply not sustainable.”