I could have a bath in that pothole, says Lieurary woman
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A young woman from Lieurary near Halkirk posted pictures on social media last week showing her sitting in a monster pothole to highlight its dimensions after her car suffered a double blowout in it.
Twenty-year-old Megan Gillon, who lives with her parents at Lieurary next to Westfield, was driving to work at 7am on January 19 when she hit the huge pothole, losing two tyres of her Mini Cooper and buckling an alloy wheel in the process.
"I'm having to drive an extra seven miles on another route via Thurso now just to avoid it," said Megan who sent in a claim to Highland Council last week to cover the damage to her car.
"There have been a couple of other people in the area who have had issues with it and commented after we posted the picture on Facebook recently."
Megan admits to being a "slow and steady driver" and is very cautious when navigating around the "many potholes" she encounters on the back roads around Halkirk.
"There are so many potholes you just can't avoid them," she said.
She described how on the day of the accident she was travelling towards Halkirk at no more than 30mph.
"It was wet and the potholes were filled with water. You couldn't work out the depth of them at all. Anyway, I just heard this massive thud, like a loud bang and it gave me a real fright. The car started wobbling and I stopped immediately."
Megan said that luckily her father was at home and just happens to be a mechanic so she called him.
"Thankfully, we had spare wheels so he was able to come out and put them on. Poor dad had to lie under the car on the wet road."
We reported last Monday how a young woman, Terri Munro, had a similar experience with a "monster pothole" near Halkirk and, coincidentally, her partner is also a mechanic and helped get her car back on the road after the incident.
Megan's father, James Gillon, checked the Mini Cooper was roadworthy and his daughter was eventually able to continue her journey to her job at the Home Bakery in Wick. On returning home later that day, she went back to the scene of the incident and her mum, Kirsty, took pictures of her sitting in the pothole to show its enormous dimensions. Megan joked that it was so big she could have had a bath in it.
Kirsty said: "Its huge. And there's quite a collection of them there, so hitting at least one is unavoidable – especially in her little Mini.
"We reported these, along with others along that road, last year. They were 'fixed' with cold tar, which fell out within a couple of months. Reported again, and again."
Kirsty said the monster pothole and others around it on the road leaving "Halkirk heading for Calder on Comlifoot Drive" were once more reported to the council and a claim sent in on Thursday last week.
The dented wheel was sent to a specialist company in Inverness to be straightened out and the total claim is for £174.34. "And that was cheap since James did all the work himself," added Kirsty.
Thurso and Northwest Caithness councillor Matthew Reiss spoke to Megan and her family on Friday and said: "The condition of the minor roads in the county is extremely concerning after this prolonged spell of severe frost.
"Despite the fact the council is putting an extra £20m into roads, it is clear that this money could be spent several times over. Last week, I spoke to senior colleagues that even higher sums of money would need to be found to repair these routes."
Councillor Reiss pointed out how the "underlying problem" lies with heavy vehicles using these minor roads. "A road engineer told me they were never designed for the weight of modern vehicles but the cost of rebuilding the roads is simply an eye-watering amount."
He also remarked on a current issue on Traill Street in Thurso where potholes have formed around, what he believes to be, a broken pipe under the road surface. He said he has reported the issue to Bear Scotland which is responsible for that section of the A9.
A Highland Council spokesperson said: “We have a process in place regarding potholes and all incidents that are reported are followed up. The Highland Council, roads service has continued to deliver frontline services throughout the Covid-19 restrictions. Our focus has been urgent road defects and winter maintenance and remains so.
“Where resources and restrictions have permitted we have undertaken routine maintenance works. In the meantime we refer people to our factsheet on pot holes that is on our website and encourage anyone to report any they spot to us at www.highland.gov.uk/downloads/file/20457/pothole_factsheet
"People can use our simple online reporting process at www.highland.gov.uk/info/20005/roads_and_pavements/96/road_faults or can telephone 01349 886601."