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Harsh weather has set back roads repairs

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Harsh weather has set back roads repairs

A “PERFECT storm” of harsh winter weather has set back roads repairs across Dumfries and Galloway, it was revealed this week.

Roads chiefs at Dumfries and Galloway Council have also admitted that they are dealing with an even bigger backlog of potholes as a result of wet conditions followed by two week-long sub-zero periods.

While this is not the news long-suffering motorists in the region wanted to hear, there is a huge programme of roads maintenance works planned from April onwards, with additional capital spending jumping from £1m in 2023/24 to more than £4m in 2024/25.

The condition of the roads and planned works was discussed at the council’s communities committee on Tuesday.

Lochar Councillor Linda Dorward said: “If you looked at the media last week, Dumfries and Galloway Council are coming out as the worst local, rural authority in Scotland for recorded potholes – despite significant investment.

“Can I ask, what does the administration propose to do to reverse this?

“I think the taxpayers and residents of Dumfries and Galloway need some assurances as to whether we’re spending our money wisely.”

Councillor Ian Blake, chairman of the committee and a member of the Conservative-led council administration, said: “We did accelerate £1m from next year’s budget into the current year, and that’s being worked out across the region at a rate of around £50,000 per ward.

“We’ve had an increase in staff, although the staff is not at its full commitment yet, and we’ve had one or two leave the scheme, having very recently been employed.

“In general terms across the region, we’ve experienced ‘the perfect storm’ with the really wet conditions followed by heavy frost – and this has caused extensive damage.

“But we are making a difference. The next year’s budget, from April onwards, increases and hopefully members of the public will see a very definite improvement in the road’s structure.

“I do appreciate Councillor Dorward’s comments – the roads are in a poor state, they have been in a poor state for some considerable time.

“We are making a small, steady improvement, and hopefully that will continue in the next financial year.”

Stephen Hall is an external adviser the council drafted in to help oversee years of roads improvements works across the region.

He admitted there is currently a “very large backlog” of potholes and other maintenance defects on the road network.

Mr Hall continued: “We’ve got winter conditions that are not helping us. That freeze-thaw action we’ve been seeing had two significant cold spells – both of which lasted a week – and temperatures were down to minus eight, minus nine overnight.

“That coming on top of wet conditions is absolutely the ideal conditions for forming potholes, so we are facing challenges throughout the winter.

“But the work this year has been all about gearing us up ready to deliver a much larger maintenance programme next year.”

Mr Hall insisted that the number of roads workers employed by the council has increased, and another recruitment drive is being organised to boost manpower further.

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