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Ross-shire councillors admit 'shame' over potholed roads as Highland Council urged to spend surplus funds on crumbling network

By Scott Maclennan

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Cllr Alasdair rhind: 'Roads is the number one priority for our constituents.'
Cllr Alasdair rhind: 'Roads is the number one priority for our constituents.'

Anger over potholed roads has reached the point where some Ross-shire councillors are ashamed to be associated with the local authority.

A heated meeting of the full council heard some say they were being made to look like “fools”.

Debate centred over whether millions of pounds of surplus cash should be invested immediately into the crumbling road network or saved as reserves.

Tain and Easter Ross councillor Fiona Robertson said:“The roads have got worse and worse and worse until now when they are in the worst state imaginable. We should have learned the lessons of years ago.

“I am really disappointed in Highland Council of late, I am really sad to say this – as a Highland councillor I feel my voice has not been heard, I think others might say the same.

“We have tried over and over and over again to get some investment in our roads and we just feel we are not being listened to – and if we feel that then how do our constituents feel because they most definitely are not being listened to.

“They elect us to represent them and we should have as strong a voice as more senior councillors do – this should be a democracy and views need to be taken into account and I don’t think they are.

Councillor Fiona Robertson surveys potholes on the Scotsburn road near Tain. Picture: Callum Mackay
Councillor Fiona Robertson surveys potholes on the Scotsburn road near Tain. Picture: Callum Mackay

“We need to invest in our roads, we need to spend on our roads – can my voice be listened to within Highland Council and can other councillors be taken into consideration as well?”

Councillor Alasdair Rhind said: “We in Tain and Easter Ross are being made to look fools. The way we are treated as councillors by Highland Council is a sheer and utter disgrace. Roads is the number one priority for our constituents. There is no money for structural maintenance. So they come in with the jet patcher and make a sheer and utter fool of us.”

Conservative group leader Andrew Jarvie sparked the debate when he asked why all solutions to major problems were being ignored only to be told that some communities do not want potholes filled.

Caithness councillor Donnie Mackay said: “I want to talk about this surplus £44 million – I think this should be spent on the roads now, not in six month’s time. The roads in Caithness are atrocious but what I am saying is that we have a lot of wind farms with heavy loads.The roads were built for horse and cart not big lorries with turbines – and the timber lorries – I don’t know if they are paying for that but, my God, it is a disgrace if we don’t get money for that.”

Inverness South councillor Duncan Macpherson said: “The points that Cllr Jarvie made have chimed with a number of members and they chimed with myself. I am the one who said a stitch in time saves six – that is the cost of repairing one kilometres of single track as it multiplies by six times if we don’t get it fixed.

“This is information that we have known for a long time and it is foolhardy of us if we sit on a pile of money all content and very cosy because we have this money the Scottish Government have given us.

“When I hear that we have only got one jet patcher for the region and I hear that areas are asking when they get it and are told they can get it for a few day – that is not good enough when we are sitting on that amount of money.We should be training the men and women who work for us to use the jet patcher to save us on claims and improving the road surface for the public.

"Can we please consider these things and spend to save to help our taxpayers and to improve our roads which are in an atrocious state and getting worse by the day.”

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