Council / Some Westside roads like ‘patchwork quilt’ after cold spell, councillor says

A gritter in Unst during the cold spell. Photo: SIC

A WESTSIDE councillor says some roads in the area have been left in a “terrible state” after the prolonged cold spell earlier this year.

Catherine Hughson likened some of the roads to a “patchwork quilt”.

At a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee on Tuesday members were told that the lengthy period of cold weather caused damage to the road network.

Patching repairs are underway in preparation for the surface dressing due to take place this summer.

“The roads on the west side are really in a terrible state after the prolonged winter,” Hughson said.

She acknowledged that local roads tend to be in a better condition than on the mainland, but the councillor said it is “not the standard that we expect in Shetland”.

Hughson questioned if more could be done to repair them.

Infrastructure director John Smith admitted it was a challenge, and added there was a backlog of work.


Roads manager Dave Coupe added that the service saw more damage than usual to carriageways after the cold spell.

The gritting teams were out nearly every day from Christmas to the end of January, spreading 5,500 tonnes of salt during this period alone, which equates to the usage for an entire winter over the last few years.

Coupe said that some of the problems with the so-called “patchwork quilt” roads should be addressed with the patching repairs currently ongoing in the isles.

But the roads manager said some of the roads maintenance backlog may have to wait. 

“I suspect we won’t catch up with it all this year, and it may slip into next year,” Coupe added.

Meanwhile a report to councillors said that a delayed programme of micro-surfacing of “failing” housing estate car parks and some minor roads will be postponed again due to the Covid pandemic.

Shetland South member George Smith said some of the car parks were in a “fairly poor state”.

Coupe said that there is a lack of contractors in microsurfacing nationally, with the pandemic exacerbating the problem.

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