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Pothole-strewn Ross-shire roads 'putting lives at risk'


By Hector MacKenzie


Stephen Skinner is worried potholes could reduce vital ambulance access needed for his daughter.
Picture: James MacKenzie
Stephen Skinner is worried potholes could reduce vital ambulance access needed for his daughter. Picture: James MacKenzie

CRUMBLING Ross-shire roads are putting people's lives at risk and jeopardising livelihoods.

A Black Isle dad fears his vulnerable daughter, who at her worst has suffered up to 60 epileptic fits a day, could be left stranded as ambulances face damage and carers struggle to navigate the pothole-strewn route to the family home.

And in Easter Ross, images of a "very dangerous" road that was only repaired a year ago have gone viral with locals branding the situation "an absolute disgrace" and the area's MP demanding immediate action of Highland Council.

But while the local authority hailed its inflation-busting council tax hike "a road to recovery", the £20 million it plans borrowing to help patch the crumbling network already looks insufficient.

The Scotsburn potholes in Easter Ross have gone viral.
The Scotsburn potholes in Easter Ross have gone viral.

Stephen Skinner, who lives at Hillside in Fortrose, said the unclassified road leading to his home is in such bad repair two carers providing support for his daughter Sharon (33) have said they'll quit.

Ambulances are regularly called to the house and both the Royal Mail and school bus operator have raised concerns. "The sides of the roads are washing away," said Mr Skinner. "The drains are non-existent. It is a lack of maintenance. I have no idea how much longer drivers will be able to do it. There is simply no way to avoid the potholes.

"My daughter Sharon has fits night and day and there is no way anyone can guarantee that an ambulance would not crack an axle on the way down to get her urgent help. It is very frightening."

To compound matters, Mr Skinner and his wife run a small bed and breakfast businesses from their home to allow them to look after their daughter. He now fears negative comments about the state of the road will impact their ability to care for her.

MSP Maree Todd said: "No one should have to worry about emergency services not being able to reach their homes due to the state of the road." She is seeking clarification from Highland Council about the timescale for repairs "given the family's vulnerable situation".

Highland Council was asked to comment but had not done so as we went to press.

Black Isle councillor Jennifer Barclay said temporary work on the road had started this week to improve the drainage but that "a long-term permanent fix" is needed. She said: "I understand council officers will be carrying that out as soon as possible when the weather improves."

Gail Ross MSP: Call to action on Scotsburn road.
Gail Ross MSP: Call to action on Scotsburn road.

Meanwhile images of a road at Scotsburn in Easter Ross leading to Moor Farm, near Tain, has been shared more than 1000 times, prompting MSP Gail Ross to appeal directly to Highland Council chief executive Donna Manson.

Angus Jack took to Facebook in a bid to spur action. He said: "Highland Council can spend £300,000 on a folly on the River Ness while busy rural roads are in this state. They deserve to be embarrassed."

His post struck a chord and has intensfiied calls for action. Graham Rooney said: "Took a diversion up there...to school. I have never seen pot holes so bad. Very dangerous."

Anne Spence said the holes caused a blow out for her vehicle and branded it "an absolute disgrace". Catherine-Ann Milburn said "cars are being damaged left, right and centre". Another said: "That road could be anywhere in the Highlands. If it's not in Inverness, they don't care".

SNP MSP Gail Ross wants action, noting it was repaired last year but has now got to the point of being unpassable. She voiced concerns for people being cared for at home and over emergency vehicle access.

She has written direct to chief executive Donna Manson this week.



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