New salt stocks arrive as ice causes roads chaos

Man hole cover has been tarred over outside the Town Hall in Coldstream.
Man hole cover has been tarred over outside the Town Hall in Coldstream.

ice has been the main problem for motorists in Berwickshire over the past week and with new salt stocks arriving Scottish Borders Council are confident they will be able to keep the main roads and footpaths treated.

With salt stocks due to run out on Monday, January 10, after their main supplier stopped delivering over the festive period, it was a race against time for the council to get more salt in and 3000 tonnes from the Goverment’s national strategic salt stocks were due to be delivered at the beginning of this week bringing the council’s total salt stock back up to approximately 4000 tonnes.

However, the cost to the council of these Government salt supplies is more than twice what they pay their usual supplier - £73 per tonne because it is shipped in from Chile and Peru, against £23 per tonne.

And council leader, Councillor David Parker is reported to have said that he would be happy to pay more if he could and if it was available. The council’s winter weather budget has been committed already and it looks likely that council reserves will have to be raided to ensure the region’s roads and footpaths continue to be as safe as possible.

“Of course we would like to do more if the salt was available but lack of salt is a national issue,” said Councillor Parker.

Normal service has now been resumed and the council supplier is sending a daily supply of 250 tonnes. However, the council is currently using a minimum of 300 tonnes of salt per day, and over the last four days, which have proved extremely challenging because of ice, the council say they would prefer to have been able to put 1000 tonnes of salt on the region’s road and footpaths.

Councillor David Parker praised motorists for heeding the many warnings about ice on the roads but is urging residents to continue to take extra care: “We would like to reassure residents that there are no other reasons behind the ongoing management of our salt stock other than to ensure we can continue to retain a resilient supply of salt so we can ensure our roads are continually maintained with salt.

“We are continuing to operate an active management approach to the use of salt across the Borders to ensure we are able to cover priority areas and main roads. Due to our limited salt supplies, we are doing our best to cover as many minor roads and footpaths as possible but I would urge all residents to take extra care when they are out and about.”

Councillor Donald Moffat highlighted incidences where council roads staff have helped out members of the public. On a number of occasions when people have had hospital appointments, the roads department cleared and salted their driveways to ensure they could get out and get to their appointments on time.

Another issue created by the extreme winter weather is pot holes and the council say they are monitoring the condition of roads and the increase in potholes across the region.

“Officers have not yet undertaken a full survey to assess the scale of the problem but this will be carried out as soon as the winter weather eases,” said a council spokesperson.

“Drivers are being asked to be extra vigilant during this time.”

In Coldstream, however, when roads officers were looking at problem areas they were so concerned about the condition of the road on Coldstream High Street outside the town hall that they decided to put tar over a subsiding manhole cover to provide some protection and a buffer for heavy traffic.

“I have been trying to get them to fix this for about two years now and in the bad weather I was at them about various things around Coldstream and elsewhere,” said Councillor Donald Moffat. “When they came to Coldstream one of the jobs that roads officers thought was very dangerous was this manhole cover and they said they would have to do something about it because it could collapse.

“I think it’s Scottish Water’s responsibility and if they need access to it they will have to lift the tar. This is a short term measure to give it a buffer.”