St Andrews Councillor Brian Thomson has demanded urgent action to resolve what he has branded as “sub-standard” pavement and road works in Greyfriars Garden in the heart of the university town’s conservation area.
The so-called “upgrading” project was completed by Fife Council earlier this summer, but has since been slammed as “a disgrace” by local residents.
Council officials have conceded that several parts of the work “were not completed satisfactorily” and that the faults would be rectified. However, almost two months on, little or nothing has been done to improve matters, according to critics.
Councillor Thomson has raised his concerns with Dr Bob McLellan, the head of transportation services at the local authority, after labelling it as “unacceptable.”
He told the Citizen:”The recent improvement works in Market Street and St Mary’s Place were carried out to a high standard, and have enhanced the town centre environment. The same, however, cannot be said about Greyfriars Garden, with the pavement now worse than it was prior to the works commencing.
“The pavement has been left in a terrible state, with uneven rough-hewn kerbstones which do not match the kerbstones on the west side of the street. There is excess grout smeared over kerbstones, paving slabs and the walls of buildings, gaps in kerbstones and paving where no grout has been applied.
“A historic terrazzo doorstep was left shattered, and a dangerous trip hazard created by leaving a lip at the entrance to a close that serves a residential property. There is also an issue with the roadway, with water now pooling in the gutters adjacent to parking meters on both the east and west side of the road.
“Worst of all, grout was allowed to enter the sewerage system during the works, which led to a number of outlets being blocked, and raw sewage overflowing on to the pavement and road.”
Councillor Thomson said that he understood that Scottish Water had carried out some work to resolve the problem, but there is still a strong smell of sewage in the street at certain times.
He also voiced concern that with most of the houses and flats in the street occupied by students, further blockages may become apparent when they return soon for the new academic year.
He concluded:”It is unacceptable that residents have had to put up with such conditions. Furthermore, Greyfriars Garden is the main pedestrian route that links the town centre with some of the town’s main visitor attractions, particularly the golf courses and the West Sands. This situation has dragged on for too long, however, after having raised the issue with council officers, I have received assurances that the defects will be rectified as quickly as possible, and it was encouraging that works to remove the excess grout from the paving slabs commenced this week.”
Alistair Donald, service manager, asset management and projects said:“As promised in July, renewed attempts to resolve outstanding issues with the Greyfriars Garden improvement project have been undertaken this month.
““An alternative cleansing agent was sourced from the grout supplier. However, due to the strength of the grout only a limited amount of success was achieved. As a result we are planning a more rigorous procedure to clean the slabs and this will be undertaken.
“Resident frustration regarding this issue is understandable, but I can assure we are making headway and the cleaning process will continue until a satisfactory finish is achieved.
“Despite cleaning, jetting and unblocking the drainage system we are aware of feedback that there remains an occasional bad smell in one area of Greyfriars Garden. We are currently in discussions with Scottish Water to identify the cause of this remaining issue and will continue working with them towards a solution.
“Regarding the issue with water lying on the carriageway next to a parking meter, I can now confirm that we have a commitment from the carriageway surfacing contractor to return and resolve this defect.
“Renewed contact is also being made with individual residents to resolve any concerns regarding minor issues with property frontages.
“We are committed to resolving these remaining issues and are working with the appropriate parties to ensure this happens without further delay.”