Civil engineering boss offers free pothole filling service

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mark's firm uses leftover ashphalt that would otherwise be thrown away

The boss of a Scottish civil engineering firm has become the guardian angel of his council's roads by filling in potholes for free.

Mark Armstrong realised he could help cash-strapped Highland Council by using leftover asphalt from road laying jobs his staff had completed elsewhere.

Now he fills in potholes in his local area, paying his workers for the extra time required.

He claims it benefits his business by saving him money in vehicle repairs.

Mr Armstrong, who owns MA Ventures and employs 15 people in Alness, Easter Ross, told the BBC Scotland News website: "I had a couple of incidents with potholes which caused significant damage to our vehicles.

"We do a lot of tarring work on roads in the north and we were dumping a lot of material at the end of jobs.

"I thought instead of dumping it, we could put it to good use."

Mark contacted Highland Council who took up his offer of help.

Image source, Mark Armstrong
Image caption,
Mark Armstrong is filling in for the council

The council - which agreed a £7.3m package of cuts and restructuring in February - has informally agreed to let him do the work as an already approved contractor.

Mark said: "The council gets a lot of grief over this but it's not their fault. They just haven't got the funding.

"Their priority is the A and B roads. So we try to take care of the local roads, mainly housing estates that the council would never get round to."

The only cost to Mark is to pay his men for doing the work - which he says they are happy to do.

He is now encouraging any other companies in a similar position to do the same.

"If you are in construction and have the resources, I don't see why you wouldn't get involved.

"It benefits everybody and it's great for community spirit."

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Mark says his firm benefits because fewer of its vehicles are damaged by potholes

Highland councillor Carolyn Wilson said Mark's offer of help was gratefully received:

"I was delighted when Mark came to me," she said.

"It is great to find someone who is public-spirited with a bit of common sense.

"I don't think we would ever get around to doing these smaller roads.

"Highland Council maintains the roads in a third of the geographical area of Scotland. Our roads department could spend millions and still not get everything done."