Falkirk Council: Repairs already needed for £800k Newmarket Street project

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More disruption lies ahead for the town centre as urgent repairs need to be carried out to an £800,000 project designed to transform Newmarket Street.

Shoppers, bus users and businesses faced 30 weeks of upheaval last year while the public realm work was carried out in the busy area.

But now, less than three months after the project was completed, the road surface in Newmarket Street has already been repaired – with more works needed.

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However, Falkirk Council has said that the principal contractor – understood to be McLay Civil Engineers – will be stumping up for the remedial work.

The damaged road surface can clearly be seen.  Pic: Michael GillenThe damaged road surface can clearly be seen.  Pic: Michael Gillen
The damaged road surface can clearly be seen. Pic: Michael Gillen

During the work which began last April and ran until late November, traffic was banned, bus stops moved and pedestrians faced diversions.

It saw kerbs lowered to provide an open and accessible space, with 1400 square metres of pavement replaced with high-quality natural stone. Six trees were planted and new street lighting and planter seating areas installed.

Many people questioned what was carried out for the cost of the project, which came from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Capital Fund.

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This week, Falkirk resident Robert Menzies, who has a masters degree in urban design, criticised much of the work – as well as an apparent lack of health and safety rules being followed during the project.

He said: “Two months after the new bus stances outside Asda were opened the new road surface at the foot of Lint Riggs has received its first patch repair. And after recent heavy rain it emerges that water gathers at the stances because the two gulleys installed there are at a high point in the tarmac rather than at the expected low point.

"The original planning drawings showed monoblok paving for the bus stance area even though these had been used previously and over time had settled alarmingly – hence the need for the new works. It seems that moving to tarmac has simply meant we have ended up with an even poorer solution.

"By narrowing the roadway at Lint Riggs you get an increased rate of wear due to buses in both directions going over the same surface. That was foreseeable but was seemingly ignored. It would be logical to redo this strip in concrete (like the old bus station) because it is more durable.

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"But any such repair will mean no buses can run in the interim and its back to Garrison Place again. So a clear failure in both design and specification.”

He added: “Trying to access Asda during construction last summer was painful as operatives were using a Stihl saw to cut granite blocks directly next to the narrow gap allowed for pedestrians. Despite the noise being deafening none of the operatives were wearing ear defenders or hard hats. Both issues suggest a complete absence of a health and safety planning despite that being a legal requirement.

"So who within the council roads department was monitoring all these failures and more importantly, who is paying to resolve them?”

A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “We are working with the contactor to resolve the defects that have appeared in Newmarket Street.

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“We can assure the public that any remedial works undertaken to make good, will be at the full expense of the principal contractor and undertaken at agreed timescales to minimise disruption to businesses and users of the town centre.”