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Highland Council road repair team 'will provide a better service to the public'

By Alan Hendry

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Councillor Ken Gowans: 'They will be undertaking permanent fixes first time around.'
Councillor Ken Gowans: 'They will be undertaking permanent fixes first time around.'

Highland Council has taken another step towards establishing a specialist pothole team, amid assurances that it will allow the local authority to respond more quickly and provide a better service to the public.

In March the council agreed to provide £1.266 million of funding for a temporary "rapid road repair team" for 2023/24 and recruitment has now reached the interview stage.

The dedicated team will provide "centrally managed, strategic support to enable road repairs in targeted areas across Highland".

The team will not only repair defects but monitor them from a central point, allowing specific problem areas to be targeted and preventing further deterioration of the road network, according to the council.

Inverness councillor Ken Gowans, chairman of the economy and infrastructure committee, said he was looking forward to seeing the team out on the roads.

“The rapid road repair team is a cost-avoidance measure as delaying repairs normally results in a larger and therefore more costly repair to be undertaken," he said.

“Having this team in place soon will also reduce the number of temporary, repeated repairs required, as they will be undertaking permanent fixes first time around.

Road resurfacing at Lyth. Picture: DGS
Road resurfacing at Lyth. Picture: DGS

“The dedicated team will have a programme of permanent repairs, which were prioritised and targeted to alleviate pressure on the network and area teams. It will also accelerate our ability to respond and provide a better service to the public.”

Operating for six months, as a trial, the team will comprise an engineer/senior technician, an operational support officer, a roads foreperson and seven roads operatives.

The council pointed out: "Currently, pothole/patching repairs are dealt with as part of the roads area maintenance workload. This is in addition to a wide range of other cyclical maintenance tasks, including verge maintenance, drainage, the winter service and emergency responses.

"The roads area teams also undertake a significant amount of the road capital works (resurfacing and surface dressing) during the summer period, which impacts on their reactive ability.

"The temporary rapid road repair team, managed from a single point, will be additional to the resources already provided at area level. It will not replace the area resource but be a dedicated one to the repair of potholes (including patching) in the carriageway or footway outwith the winter months."

During winter, the new workers will be used to "supplement the existing resources" for tasks such as gritting.

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