Lasswade road closure hits business and locals

Clem Stephenson of C.S. Auto Repairs in Polton Village who is worried he will lose business as clients will not drive to him from Loanhead as Polton Road is treacherous in the winter.
Clem Stephenson of C.S. Auto Repairs in Polton Village who is worried he will lose business as clients will not drive to him from Loanhead as Polton Road is treacherous in the winter.

A garage owner in Lasswade is up in arms after the main road to his business was closed by gas company SGN carrying out work nearby.

SGN, which has been working to upgrade its network in the Polton Bank area since August, is currently replacing old gas mains with new plastic pipes to “ensure a safe and reliable gas supply to the area”. It is currently working between Polton Bank’s junctions with De Quincey Road and Polton Bank Terrace, after closing the road on December 3.

Clem Stephenson of C.S. Auto Repairs at Polton Garage, claims the closure has cost him business, as he relies on passing trade. And he is angry at the lack of notice given. His concerns have been echoed by locals who fear having to use the alternative route up a notorious hill at this time of year.

Mr Stephenson said: “It’s 50 per cent of my customers that are pop-in drive-ins. So now I have not got that they won’t go up and down the other side of the hill because it’s dangerous when icy.

“It’s farcical, I don’t know why they have planned it for this time of year.

“They are behind schedule already so it could take longer than the expected December 21 to finish the work.

“I went up to see them as I wasn’t best impressed. They put the sign up on the Friday, put letters through doors on Saturday and they were there on the Monday. The letter mentioned previous correspondence but I had never heard from them at all. There was nothing. Nobody I know got any forward notice.”

Mr Stephenson is concerned about the effect of the road closure on his business.

He said: “It’s been a garage since the early 70s. I have been here for eight years. It’s pretty well established.

“People won’t come up the other side of the hill to get here. We’ve been very quiet. As soon as they see the closed road sign they just give up.

“We are more about face to face, people coming in to ask questions instead of over the phone. I also now have to take my MOTs the long way to Rosewell. So it is now double the time to do that.

“At this time of year it’s hard to get up the hill. Normally a gritter is down here all the time. But they can’t get down because of the road being closed. Even the work men won’t come down that road.

“It’s a farce for me, for my business, for local residents and the bowling club

“The first week trade wasn’t that bad, as I had work booked in. But last week it was terrible.”

A concerned local resident, who didn’t want to be named, raised concerns about the alternative route. He said: “I just hope the steep hill (Polton Road) doesn’t ice up or we’re stuck. My car skidded right across the steep hill the other day. I have lived here for nine years. It’s the worst road in Midlothian in winter.”

Dan Brown, spokesman for SGN, said: “To ensure everyone’s safety around our site we temporarily closed the road. A signed diversion route is in place for motorists via Polton Road West and Lasswade Road. All our work and traffic management is planned in close consultation with the local authority. We expect to be able to safely reopen the road by the end of this week.

“Following the completion of this phase of our project, we have further work to carry out. All being well, we’re expecting to complete the remainder of our work by mid-January.

“We’d like to thank local residents and businesses for their patience while we carry out this essential work.”