THE council has paid out more than £155,000 to Borders motorists in recent years due to damage caused by potholes, new figures have shown.

Papers on the region’s road network have been published ahead of a meeting of the audit and scrutiny committee tomorrow (Thursday).

And the documents show that Scottish Borders Council (SBC) received 990 insurance claims between 2019-2022 for pothole damage.

The claims have resulted in the local authority forking out £155,382 to claimants, according to the report.

It states: “Unfortunately, the deterioration of the roads infrastructure and the amount of resource allocated towards its maintenance means that it is not possible to undertake planned permanent repairs in all circumstances due to cost/resource constraints, whilst still achieving the timescale for rectifying identified defects.

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“A further complication is that weather conditions, particularly during winter, are not conducive to carrying out permanent or significant repairs.

“This is mainly due to the presence of water both on the surface and throughout the various layers of the road construction and the continual freeze-thaw process at this time of year, which leads to the creation of further damage.

“We therefore operate an approach of using planned permanent and temporary repairs which, when complemented with cyclic interventions, contributes to a strategy of minimising interventions and where interventions are required, that they are as effective and long lasting as possible.”

The council is accepting liability for an increasing number of claims each year, according to the figures.

In 2019/20, 499 insurance claims were received but just 23 were settled.

In the following year, 357 were submitted, with the council admitting liability in 100 of the cases.

However, in the current financial year the claimant was unsuccessful in just three of the 134 claims received by the council.

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In response to pothole issues, the council has doubled its jet patching fleet by purchasing a second machine.

Meanwhile, SBC is expecting to receive the JCB Pot Hole Pro – which combines the tasks of three other machines and was trialled last year – in early 2022.

On the reasons behind SBC implementing temporary rather than permanent repairs on potholes, the report states: “First of all, if road conditions are wet or icy, a permanent repair is very unlikely to take; the hot bitumen will instantly cool before adequate compaction can be achieved and the ice or water will also prevent the repair bonding to the existing road.

“Secondly, permanent repairs take a good deal of time and, depending on their location, may require temporary traffic lights to be brought in or a road closure. This requires more equipment, staff and planning; particularly at times when the resource isn’t available immediately – perhaps because the crews covering that area are on gritting duty or have more urgent potholes to fix – a temporary repair is still better than leaving it.

“Thirdly, the pothole, or cluster of them, may actually be symptomatic of a more general, underlying problem on the stretch of road, requiring further investigation and potential resurfacing of an entire section. Again, this is a much larger job which cannot be done on the spot, so we’ll ensure the holes are temporarily filled to keep the area safe in the meantime.”