A “man-sized” pothole on an Aberdeenshire school bus route is reportedly forcing some motorists to “go off road” to avoid it.
Aberdeenshire Council is currently carrying out a major repair project on its 3,500-mile roads network, and is dealing with a great many defects caused by last year’s roads maintenance programme being suspended due to lockdown, coupled with the lengthy period of wintry weather.
As a result of these difficulties, the council has been dealing with an increasing number of roads issues being reported, including on a number on smaller rural routes that countryside communities depend on.
One area facing a particular pothole problem is around Netherley in Aberdeenshire, between Maryculter and Stonehaven.
Several constituents have complained to north-east Tory MSP Liam Kerr of the state of some roads in the region, and in particular the small U92K road near the junction between the B979 Netherley road and the road to Lairhillock school and Portlethen.
A hole in the road has grown to more than half a foot deep.
Mr Kerr has now written to Aberdeenshire Council’s chief executive Jim Savege, asking for the council to address the issues in the area.
He wrote: “This road is regularly used by school busses, heavy duty tractors and farm machinery, with vehicles often having to drive along the road verge in order to avoid hitting potholes.
“Despite regular reporting of the issues above, my constituents remain very concerned the road is becoming dangerous and could potentially cause significant vehicle damage or result in injury, with temporary repairs not enough to keep the road in a good and safe state of repair.”
‘For safety’s sake’
Road defects which are determined to pose an immediate danger to the public are “inspected and actioned within 24 hours”, according to Aberdeenshire Council.
Mr Kerr said: “Aberdeenshire has a vast network of rural roads which costs a lot of money to maintain.
“But man-sized potholes can’t be allowed to form on a school bus route. For safety’s sake, I’ve asked whether investment in a proper fix to correct long standing issues.
“Residents might be in the know about the general conditions on that stretch, but they shouldn’t have to go off road to avoid a hefty tyre replacement bill. In fact, it makes an accident more likely.
“Rural communities across the north east are blighted by crumbling roads and insufficient infrastructure.
“The key to fixing this is a fair share for councils from the Scottish Government so they can concentrate on long-term fixes for problem roads.”
Road users have been advised to beware of travelling too fast on sections of carriageway that have been recently had work carried out on them to avoid skid risks.
Repair efforts ramped up
Alan Wood, Aberdeenshire Council’s director of infrastructure services, said: “Our roads maintenance team are now increasing their operations and work across Aberdeenshire as a result of relaxed conditions on coronavirus.
“Whilst not back to full capacity yet, residents should notice an increased presence across the Shire. Specifically, within Kincardine and Mearns, the area is currently undergoing high intensity surface dressing operations, which means that the local roads team are progressing with the higher ranking repairs before moving on to other programmed work this calendar year.
“I am particularly aware of the U92K issues and indeed other defects on some other unclassified roads, which in turn will be prioritised in conjunction with the U92K work over the summer months.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Maintenance of the local road network is the responsibility of local authorities and it is the responsibility of individual councils to manage their own budgets and to allocate the total financial resources available to them on the basis of local needs and priorities.
“In 2021-22, Aberdeenshire Council will receive a total funding package of £503.3 million to support local services, which includes an extra £19 million to support vital day to day services, equivalent to an increase of 4.1% compared to 2020-21.”
Here’s where you can report road defects in: