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Caithness campaigner claims rural route has become 'medieval cart track'


By Alan Hendry

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One of the Sibmister Road photos shared by Caithness Roads Recovery. Picture: CRR
One of the Sibmister Road photos shared by Caithness Roads Recovery. Picture: CRR

Campaigner Iain Gregory has warned that the winter months will be "disastrous" for local roads, arguing that they are deteriorating on a daily basis.

He highlighted one rural route in particular – Sibmister Road, Murkle – after being contacted by what he called "outraged and despairing residents".

Mr Gregory, co-founder of Caithness Roads Recovery (CRR), declared: "We have featured this location on numerous occasions. The appalling state of what was once a road, but is now simply a medieval cart track, has been reported over and over again, and precisely nothing of any consequence has been done.

"Yes, the odd spot of tar has been applied now and then, but repairs? I can tell you without a moment's hesitation that the public have absolutely had enough of this, and so have I.

Iain Gregory on a damaged section of road at Sibmister soon after Caithness Roads Recovery was founded in February 2021. Picture: Mel Roger
Iain Gregory on a damaged section of road at Sibmister soon after Caithness Roads Recovery was founded in February 2021. Picture: Mel Roger

"Throughout Caithness our roads infrastructure is deteriorating daily, and I believe that this winter will prove to be disastrous. Yes, some areas in the county have been resurfaced, but we all know perfectly well that the situation is absolutely desperate.

"One short walk around Wick, Thurso or Castletown, or along so many of our country roads, proves this beyond a doubt."

Mr Gregory supplied some photos showing potholed sections of Sibmister Road and insisted the level of damage was unacceptable.

"This simply cannot go on, and all politicians – of all parties and none – know this perfectly well," he said. "No matter what is said in the media releases issued by the council, on so many topics, it is time to face up to reality and get on with what really matters.

"CRR has said, over and over again, that the shocking state of Caithness roads is a symptom of a far deeper malaise. Caithness has been ignored, marginalised and neglected for far too long.

"It is no exaggeration to say that action is no longer hoped for, or being politely requested, by many people – it is now being demanded. Enough is enough.

"We need real action, with intervention from Holyrood/Westminster, and we need it now."

Councillor Ron Gunn, who represents the Thurso and Northwest Caithness ward, understands that repair work is scheduled for the Sibmister Road area within the next month.

"We have been told repairs will take place in December but the weather in Caithness could make the work challenging," Councillor Gunn said. "However, I'm sure that the roads team will do the best they can."

Highland Council has been asked to comment.

In October, Mr Gregory repeated his call for more support for Caithness roads from both the Scottish and UK governments.

He highlighted the "sheer scale of the collapse" affecting motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users at a time when Highland Council is facing "dire financial challenges".


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