Borders roads network criticised

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The latest criticism of the state of the roads in the Borders has come from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

They are calling for action by councillors elected in the May 4, Local Government elections after official figures showed that the rate of decline in the condition of Borders roads is the worst in Scotland (9% deterioration over four years) and only 54.5% were in an acceptable condition.

The replacement value of Scottish Borders Council’s roads is £5bn and the FSB say that “valuable assets deserve to be looked after”.

Borders Council has over 1,900 miles of roads and 1,200 bridges to maintain across a predominantly rural region outlining the scale of the challenge it faces at a time when Scotland’s councils are being asked to deliver more with less.

Despite increasing its roads spending by over 10 per cent between 2011 and 2015, and making some significant improvements, the difference between what the council spent on roads maintenance in 2015 (£4.2m) and what they need to spend to keep roads in current condition (£9.3m) is £5m according to Audit Scotland.

Additional roads maintenance funding of £67.3 million over 20 years was committed to slow down their rate of decline in condition, however this is only expected to lead to a 0.5 per cent improvement in the number of roads in an acceptable condition.

Commenting on these figures, Gordon Henderson, senior development manager for FSB said: “Despite the successful reinstatement of the Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, the Borders economy is still heavily reliant on its roads to keep it moving so these figures highlight the need for additional roads investment and collaborative working with neighbouring councils.

“The figure of 54.5 per cent in an acceptable condition leaves the Borders 28th out of Scotland’s 32 councils.

“For local businesses to thrive and grow their customers need to be able to reach them easily. If deliveries take longer than other areas it makes businesses uncompetitive and the region less attractive as a business base.

“A really important market now and into the future for the Borders economy is tourism, so we need to make visiting as easy as possible to encourage repeat visits. The council has created an ambitious cycling strategy but its success will rely on decent roads for cyclists if they are to be encouraged to come back.

“Borders Council quite rightly states that it’s roads network is its most valuable asset, with a replacement value of £5bn. Valuable assets deserve to be looked after, so we need the new council to address this as soon as possible after the election.”