Lifeline Jura road ‘left to rot’, claims islander

The badly potholed section of the A846 which is causing concern on Jura.
The badly potholed section of the A846 which is causing concern on Jura.

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A Jura resident has said the island’s only A road – a lifeline supply and commute route which provides vital access for emergency services – has been ‘left to rot’.

Neil Gow, a member of Jura Community Council, spoke out in desperation, having complained about the ‘utter disrepair’ of a section of the A846 for months with little result.

He explained that a now-badly-pot-holed section of the road, a few hundred metres long, was resurfaced in October 2020.

‘Within days, it was deteriorating to a far worse state than it has ever been,’ Neil said. ‘I believe other areas of Argyll had similar issues which were subsequently rectified. Jura was not.’

Neil said that despite some ‘sympathetic responses and promises of action’ after continuous complaints to Argyll and Bute Council from the community council and members of the wider community, the condition of the road became worse rather than better.

‘We were repeatedly told the road just needs time to settle,’ he said. ‘As the predictable wet winter weather set in, the stretch became increasingly dangerous, and was marked only by a solitary traffic cone placed by a member of public.’

Neil personally complained to the council after a fellow Jura resident received a response on December 4 advising that repairs would be carried out by January 3.

‘Given the dangerous state of the road by this stage, and the speed of deterioration, I found this delay unacceptable – and the timing of the first Sunday of 2021 to be suspiciously odd,’ he said. ‘Predictably, the January 3 deadline was missed.

‘The only improvement that appears to have come from complaints so far has been the eventual erection of warning signs in late December – one of which blew down days later and remains down.

‘The road now is in utter disrepair in multiple sections. What holes have been patched have either been emptied within days, or dwarfed by the surrounding disintegration of the remaining carriageway.

‘I understand that the present pandemic has caused disruption to services but, to state the obvious, this road is the literal lifeline for the island.

‘It is frankly a disgrace that Jura has been left to rot like this. I am not interested in investigations, or blame, or heads rolling, or apologies, or excuses. The people of Jura need a road. Anything less is a failure.’

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson told the Courier: ‘When lockdown eased in the late summer, we successfully completed five road re-tread programmes on Islay and Jura, at a cost of over £0.5 million.

‘These works were designed to have a minimal environmental impact by recycling existing road material, adding bituminous binder and then regrading and compacting the surface. This treatment ensures that we can maximise the amount of surface treatment delivered from our limited available budget.

‘We are working hard to deal with the localised damage on the mile-long stretch of Jura road that was resurfaced. Localised damage is not unusual.

‘As well as monitoring and patching the potholes, we will arrange for a contractor to overlay the damaged areas. This is dependent on ferry availability, as the materials have to be brought from the mainland and used while they are still hot.

‘We would love to do everything our communities want us to, including full maintenance of our 2,300 kilometres of roads. The fact is, we would need to invest over £100 million to bring the entire road network up to an A1 standard.’