The provost of Falkirk says he’s “in despair” that repairing a gaping hole in a fence that separates a busy road from a canal “is not considered an urgent priority”.
Billy Buchanan is demanding that Scottish Canals and Falkirk Council work together to create a suitable safety barrier on the B816 Seabegs Road – saying someone has to take responsibility.
While the provost has raised the issue for several years, things became more urgent in October when a car left the road and plunged into a stretch of the Forth and Clyde Canal at the spot where a large tree had fallen into the water, leaving a gap.
But Scottish Canals says that while it accepts it is responsible for repairing the fence beside the road, it claims the fence is not there for safety reasons.
A Scottish Canals spokesperson said: “We acknowledge that on Seabegs Road there is a gap in the land ownership boundary fencing and Scottish Canals has been working with the local authority to arrange traffic management to allow the reinstatement of the fence as it delineates land ownership only and, therefore, is not considered an urgent priority with our works planning.
“While the responsibility for road users does not lie with Scottish Canals, we have inspected the site and do not believe this fence would have prevented the recent accident which took place on Seabegs Road.”
Buchanan, who is also a councillor for Bonnybridge, says he is “incredulous” that Scottish Canals is saying this isn’t a priority.
He had already pleaded for better road safety measures to be put in place before the incident with the car, but when he raised the matter at a meeting of Falkirk Council last August he was told repairs would cost around £3m.
“They both have responsibility for this and they must do something before an even more serious accident happens,” he said.
“I travel that road every day, every week and I think that anybody that uses the road would think the same as me – it is extremely stressful.
“God forbid anything happens in the future and there are injuries or worse. Somebody will have to do something – and they’ll need to do it quick.
“The only words I can use is that I’m in despair.
“I would actually say to anyone – when the weather is bad, don’t travel on that road if you can avoid it.”
By local democracy reporter Kirsty Paterson