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Wick upside down as utilities converge to carry out repairs

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Residents of Wick have been skirting around at least 20  different sets road works in the town centre and outlying areas over the past weeks.

All the major utilities seem to be focusing their pneumatic drills on the town at once.
Disruptions include SSE carrying out new cabling and repair works, Scottish Water carrying out repair works, Scottish Gas Networks doing valve replacement works and Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd carrying out extensive work at the harbour.

BT fibre is being installed in some areas, and Traffic Scotland is working on the A99 northbound on on Francis Street.

Yesterday, according to roadworksscotland.org, there were 19 sets in or very close to the town – more than any other north community except Inverness. The Wick total has been more in previous days.

Currently there are only three sets of roadworks in Fort William and two in Thurso – both have bigger populations than Wick.

Residents say while no one likes disruptions they are resigned to the upheaval.

John Bogle, Wick community council secretary said: “There have been lots of traffic lights in the town, some short term, and some longer, like the ones at the harbour where Beatrice Offshore has been doing up two Telford buildings and building new offices which required services to go in.

“Two eyesore buildings have also been demolished, so the improvements at the harbour are very welcome.

“We are accepting of all the disruptions, but in an ideal world the road would only be opened once with the utilities communicating with each other when they happen to be in the area at the same time.”

Taxi businesses are not so philosophical however, with traffic light delays costing them money.

James Miller of Miller’s Taxis said: “There’s never a clear street.

“Take the journey from Wick to Thurso, with a fixed fare of £32. There’s been five sets of lights on that road, adding up to 15 minutes delay. We’ve worked out it costs us £8 extra an hour.

“With that and potholes costing us anything from £500 a month in repairs, it’s a disgrace.”There is light at the end of the tunnel from one utility, with SSE about to complete works on Louisburgh Street after carrying out repairs to an underground cable fault.

The utility was also working last week on Thurso Road near SSEN’s substation to reinforce the local network for Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited, and this work is now complete.

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