THE proprietors of a Brora hotel have hit out at BearScotland after they and their guests spent a sleepless night because of roadworks outside their door.
Wendy Pearce, who runs the Sutherland Inn with her husband William, and their guests had to put up with the sound of jackhammers operating into the small hours and the bleep of reversing vehicles.
One guest was so frustrated that he left at 5am.
The couple are angry that BearScotland, which manages and maintains the trunk road, did not warn them in advance of the overnight working and were unhelpful and dismissive when they complained.
Mrs Pearce said: "We had a dreadful night and hardly anyone in the hotel got any sleep – it was horrendous."
The roads firm has spent days carrying out £170,000 surfacing improvements on more than a kilometre of the A9 from the southern outskirts of Brora to the centre of the village.
Mrs Pearce said she had received a letter advising her the work was scheduled but was not unduly concerned.
She said: "It was absolutely fine with us because we thought it was just a day time thing. We had no problem with that at all."
But the couple heard on the village grapevine on Monday morning that work would continue throughout that night and into Tuesday morning.
With the hotel’s seven bedrooms all fully booked, Mr Pearce phoned BearScotland in a bid to confirm the rumour and to say overnight working was not acceptable.
But, according to the couple, a representative of the firm was completely unhelpful and responded with "disinterest".
Mrs Pearce said: "They started working with jackhammers in the evening. The noise was really bad and the whole building vibrated. That continued until after 11.30pm when they began laying tar. This involved vans reversing up and down. Each time they reversed, we could hear the warning beep sound.
"We had to deal with a lot of irate guests."
At one point she went outside to complain to the works supervisor – the noise was so bad that she had to take him back into the hotel in order to be heard.
"The chap in control was completely disinterested and basically informed me that BearScotland could do what it liked," she said.
Mrs Pearce finally fell asleep at 3am, only to wake at 5am when one of her guests decamped.
She said: "I know it’s not our fault but we have tried hard to build up a good reputation and this has done us no good at all. A lot of our guests that night were workers at the distillery and had to start their day after having little sleep."
The Pearces have now complained to ward councillor Deirdre Mackay and sent her a video to show exactly what they had to put up with.
A spokesperson for BEAR Scotland said: "We’re sorry to learn of Mr and Mrs Pearce’s experience during this project, and we’ve reached out to the Sutherland Inn directly to explain the reasoning behind the night-time working.
"The majority of the project was carried out during the daytime under a 10mph convoy system for safety. Following concerns after a number of near-miss incidences involving motorists from side streets merging into oncoming traffic in the convoy-working area, the decision was made to switch to overnight working for two nights during the final phase of the project to allow teams to continue the surfacing improvements safely due to the reduced traffic volumes at night.
"We thank the local community and motorists for their patience during these improvements."
The spokesperson said that a £130,000 project to carry out surfacing improvements, set to begin in Golspie on Monday, will be undertaken overnight for five nights. Work will start at 7pm and end at 7am.