Potholes in the Scottish Borders

Having moved to Peebles in 2002, self-proclaimed ‘stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s potholes!

I recently visited my country of birth and was amazed to see some of the infrastructure projects that have been completed and some in progress. Many roads in the cities and towns are now being done using concrete instead of asphalt. Rural areas are still using asphalt as its cheaper for the local councils but the environmental costs are huge compared to concrete. Potholes are a major problem every rainy season as big holes suddenly appear and damage to people’s physical health and property runs into millions every year. Coming back to the Borders made me feel that I was still in India! Though I am not sure if the council is going out of its way to make me feel at home!

My work takes me to all parts of Scotland and having visited quite a few places in the Borders since coming back, I was genuinely appalled at the state of the roads with some roads being blocked out completely by traffic cones placed by concerned road users. Many have had damage to their vehicle’s, while some placed traffic cones and road signs directly onto potholes to warn oncoming traffic. Why is this happening on such a regular basis in the Borders? Is this the councils responsibility for making our roads safe to drive or the Scottish governments, or Westminster? At least now we can stop blaming the European Union! I have seen cars breakdown immediately after going over a concealed pothole without any warning and the risk it poses to all concerned cannot be under estimated. Complaints have been pouring through social media, press and the councils own website. Roads are the backbone of any thriving modern society  and any limitations to accessing quality infrastructure will only undermine the flow of goods and services in the area. Somebody put up a post on Facebook asking the question as to vehicle’s have to be fit for roads, so why not the other way around? Why don’t we hold councils and our elected representatives legally liable for the state of the roads or the infrastructure facilities? The current ruling Tory administration seems to be blaming the previous one and the story keeps going on and on. Having looked at last year’s budget of the council it seems to me that monies have been spent on elected councillors pet projects at the expense of the whole of the Borders residents.

What is the solution we have that should cross across party lines. All major road networks in the Borders should be concretised instead of using the current cheap asphalt roads. One of the big benefits of using concrete is the longevity of the materials lasting anywhere from 30-40 years. Plus they tend to be more green. The obvious disadvantage is the cost. So which is better? Concrete or Asphalt? Unfortunately its not easy to answer that question as my research found many pros and cons to both materials in terms of costs and safety to road users. We as a community need to come together to tackle this ongoing problem once and for all.

Are SBC councillors up to this challenge?

Published in The Peeblesshire News on 21st February 2020.

What happens to our food rights post Brexit?

Bosco Santimano – Founder/Executive Director

This week Bosco Santimano  shares his thoughts on the UK leaving the European Union.

Finally its happened! We have officially left the European Union for “Unity, Peace and stability”. It’s taken three and a half years, three Prime Ministers and two elections to finally get to this stage. The initial process is now complete and the negotiations begin for what may turn out to be an eventful year ahead, especially for Scotland and Northern Ireland. As an organisation we are saddened to see the state of affairs as Westminster politics takes centre stage and holds the rest of the countries in this United Kingdom to ransom. Can we make it alone as an Independent nation or group of nations outside the EU? of course we can. Our concern is mainly about food, environment, climate change and health of Scottish residents post Brexit. Having personally worked closely with the EU and the Scottish government in the past it concerns me that all the safeguards that the EU put in place for our health and other social benefits will be removed or watered down to get trade agreements with the biggest shark in the world! America. Chlorinated chicken is the least of our worries as environmental laws and other climate related initiatives may be watered down to suit the Americans to get a free trade deal. Great Britain may be in the process of becoming Little Britain by the end of this year if we the people become complacent and think all is now lost.

As an organisation working at the grassroots and campaigning for equal health and access to cheap and good food rights for all Scottish residents, we will be specifically looking at costs of fresh foods, post Brexit, until December 2020 and beyond 2021 when supposedly we will have a trade deal with the EU. Prices of essential food and other items have increased by over 40% since 2007-08 recession and then again after the 2016 EU referendum by another 30%. I have taken a conservative figure compared to what the actual figure is; i.e. over 50 to 60%! Wages and benefits have not increased during this period, hence the establishment of the United Kingdom of Food Banks which have been setup all over this G7 country for the poor and working class. We did and in some cases did not support many regulations that were coming out of the EU over the years but many people fail to understand that those laws and regulations that were passed were fully approved by the governments of all the 28 EU nations, a fact conveniently left out by all right wing newspapers and tabloids and politicians. The EU has been proactive in banning harmful pesticides and fertilisers that scientific evidence proved was harming the environment and its people. American Corporations are waiting in glee to ravage this country with their toxic chemicals and products. Will Genetically Modified Seeds (GMO’s) now be allowed to grow in Scotland?

We hope not.

Published in The Peeblesshire News on 7th February 2020.