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Tackle pot holes now while traffic is light, urges Cromarty Firth councillor Carolyn Wilson

By Scott Maclennan

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Carolyn Wilson.
Carolyn Wilson.

CALLS have been made for Highland Council to make use of the lockdown to repair the region’s pockmarked roads while they are free of traffic.

Cromarty Firth councillor Carolyn Wilson said it would be the “ideal moment” to get a lot of work done despite pressures on the budget that were announced last week.

The local authority claims it is facing an £80 million shortfall in funding this year through lost revenues and will have to rewrite its budget.

That would potentially include £20 million it had earmarked to spend on potholed roads But despite that Cllr Wilson believes there is still a window of opportunity.

She believes that somewould have to go ahead anyway due to the state of some roads and this would be the ideal time to make progress “before the world gets back to normal.”

“I just think that it makes sense to me that while the roads are really quiet this is a great opportunity for the council to be proactive,” she said.

“They have allocated money in the budget towards roads, I know there is a lot of strain on the budget but potholes are a massive issue for everybody and it would be really good to try and get some work done on them before the world gets back to normal if it is ever going to be normal again.

“There are obviously huge issues about the extra cost incurred around this terrible situation, I am sure that they have much more knowledge about the budget than I do but there must still be some work that is going to be done on roads you would have thought.

“If they were unhappy about using council staff to do the work, if there were reasons for that, if they were to get in contractors that are shortly by the look of it going to doing some work anyway these companies would do their own social distancing and have their own regulations to protect their staff.

“So for me it seems like an ideal opportunity, you always hear people complaining about the roads getting repaired when all the tourists come, well we have no tourists at the moment and the roads are really quiet and this is an ideal opportunity.

“What is going to happen when the lockdown is eased and there is more people on the roads then you are going to have all these traffic jams and traffic lights – so just to me it makes sense.

“There is going to be massive constraints on the council’s budget with the extra work that is involved at the moment and I think everybody should understand that – things will change but there are some roads which are particularly bad and do definitely need to be fixed that are unavoidable repairs and so this is the time to do it.

“The Scotsburn Road in Tain is particularly bad but I am careful in saying there will be changes to what the council has money to pay for right now.”

A council spokesman said: “Repairs to critical transport infrastructure, which includes the road network,are deemed to be an essential activity , as long as social distancing is maintained and roads operatives can work safely in accordance with current guidelines. Road defects continue to be prioritised according to their severity, and will be undertaken as soon as possible.”

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