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Roads workers attacked

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Roads workers attacked

ROADS workers are being subjected to abuse and physical assaults by members of the public in Dumfries and Galloway, it has been claimed.

Council staff sent out to monitor the condition of roads and check for dangerous potholes have reportedly been attacked in the street by angry residents.

The poor state of the region’s roads has been a huge frustration for people throughout the region, but confrontations and an escalation to violence has caused serious concern.

Mid and Upper Nithsdale Councillor Andrew Wood raised the issue at the Nithsdale Area Committee on Wednesday.

He said: “I understand we have nine monitoring vehicles that go out on a daily basis monitoring the roads.

“In relation to the staff that do this monitoring, what is the council – and particularly the roads department – going to do to protect those members of staff that go out in the monitoring cars?

“I understand that they get abuse from the public, and in actual fact some have been attacked.

“Are we going to make sure we have a policy in place that safeguards and protects our staff?”

Stephen Hall, the council’s interim head of roads and infrastructure, said: “The safety and protection of our staff right across the council has got to be one of our highest priorities, and I know it is for officers and (elected) members as well.

“Yes, we do have policies and procedures in place to protect our staff. On a personal level, I absolutely want them to report any incidents where they are either verbally or physically abused by the public so that we can address that.

“If there are changes we need in terms of policies and procedures, and mechanisms we have to keep them safe, then absolutely we want to know that and will deal with things as they arise.”

The council has prioritised tackling the poor condition of its roads and has allocated an additional £5.15m to its roads improvement fund for each of the next four years.

Given that the total length of public road maintained by Dumfries and Galloway Council is 4202km, the repair project is a monumental task.

Then there is also 1324km of footways, 1339 structures, 24,949 streetlights, and 82 signalised junctions.

Stephen Hall explained that this means roads teams are currently focusing on the most serious roads issues which pose safety risks.

He told councillors “Given the condition of the road network at present, we are having to prioritise the repairs that are done.

“Our teams are out there responding to the highest priority safety-based defects. That does mean that there are other defects we have to maintain a monitoring regime over because we haven’t been able to go out and actually fix them.

“They continue to be monitored to ensure they haven’t escalated to be a greater risk to the public.”

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