A SCOTTISH tycoon has dipped into his own pockets to fund pothole repairs worth £10,000 in the area near his luxurious hotel.
Stephen Winyard, who helped fund Gerry and Kate McCann’s search for their daughter, is the owner of Stobo Castle Health Spa in Peeblesshire.
Mr Winyard says the area is “blighted” by potholes and wants the cash used to help fix crumbling roads before the start of the tourist season.
He wants the donation to cash-strapped Scottish Borders Council to set an example of how the private and public sector can work together.
The UK Government confirmed in March that it will provide councils access to £100 million to help fix Britain’s pothole-ridden roads.
The Government estimates that about seven million potholes will be filled with this money.
Mr Winyard, whose hotel charges around £1000 for a weekend spa package for two, is fed up of waiting.
He said: “I am urging the council chief executive to use this additional funding to immediately survey and repair at the earliest opportunity, the worst of the pavements and potholes that are so, so blighting my home town of Peebles.
“I have heard of people getting their wheels damaged on the journey from Stobo to Peebles, thats a fact.
“I’m concerned about the conditions of Peebles town center, not only for the safety of the residents but we are just coming into the tourist season and we want to encourage people to come to Peebles.
“I think the donation was born out of a degree of frustration that no action has been taken to fill in these potholes, but I fully respect that the council have a finite budget, and with the recent extreme weather conditions the roads have been left with an unprecedented number of repairs needed.
“But something needs to be done and what I’m hoping is that the chief executive will use this money to fund and conduct an immediate full survey of the roads, and repair the ones which are the most severe first.”
“My business pays £250,000 a year in business rates, and you could take the view that the full responsibility for these roads lays with the council but i think you have to take a fairer view than this.
“£10,000 is not a huge donation to make if that encourages a start at addressing this problem.
Mr Winyard, who splits his time between Stobo and Monaco, added: “I hope this contribution will be seen as a positive example of how the private sector and the public sector can work together to everyone’s mutual advantage.”
On social media, Sheena Patterson wrote: “Wow what a generous gift.
Betty Ross added: “What a nice man.”
However some thought that the donation shouldn’t have been necessary.
Margaret Jeffrey wrote: “The cynic in me suggests he could have given to more worthy cause. Council will waste and carry out normal patchwork which will need re-repaired in 6 months.”
Jackie Hamilton said: “It’s a more than generous gift but I feel this should be undertaken by the council.”
Marjory Burt asked: “But why is the Council not fixing it? Isn’t that why you pay rates?”
And John Waddell added: “Be great if the road from Peebles to Stobo has priority.”
The £100m Government fund to address the pothole problem was announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling in March.
The money adds to the existing £75m in government funding already offered to councils from the Pothole Action Fund, as well as £46m for highways authorities.
Mr Winyard’s family took over the derelict Stobo Castle in 1975, when it had no electricity or running water.
The businessman agreed to offer an initial sum of £100,000 to help cover the cost of the McCanns legal costs – a figure matched by Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson.
A Scottish Borders Council spokesman said: “The Council appreciates Mr Winyard’s gesture as part of his ongoing commitment to the Tweeddale area. Officers will now consider how we could get best value for the local roads network with this donation.
“The Council has been carrying inspections of all roads in the Borders to assess the damage since the extreme winter weather experienced in late February and early March.
“These surveys have identified over 700 sections of damaged roadway associated with the extreme winter weather across the 3,000 kilometre network in the Borders.”