Our story today that the mystery crack on one of the key roads between Edinburgh and Dalkeith may not be fixed for another eight months puts a new complexion on a simmering dispute between motorists and residents on the edge of the Midlothian town.
The facts are that the A6106, until just four years ago the main A68 road south, is now closed near Lugton Brae on the edge of Dalkeith.
The council has re-routed traffic around the edge of the town, a near two-mile diversion for the 10,000 cars a day who use the busy route. However, a much shorter diversion exists by using a quiet crescent-shaped road that runs alongside the A6106. Local residents, however, are unhappy about this and have complained to the council about motorists ignoring “road closed” signs.
The question now is one of balance. Should the council enforce the existing diversion and send 10,000 cars along the residential streets of Eskbank or allow them to travel on this local road, disrupting its middle-class residents?
Assuming the April re-opening date, the costs to motorists for the longer diversion is almost £500,000 in additional petrol, lost productivity and soaring CO2 emissions. There is also a cost to local businesses with some already reporting a large drop in trade. By using the shorter division, the cost is a loss of amenity to the fewer than 50 houses that adjoin this road.
Disrupt the many or disrupt the few?
With this dispute set to continue, could Midlothian Council not assuage residents by introducing temporary speed bumps on the shorter diversion to slow down traffic? A temporary 20mph speed limit? What about allowing smaller cars to use the route but diverting lorries?
And if the decision is taken that this is not possible they should communicate this properly to residents and motorists.
At the moment, many ordinary people in Dalkeith who commute to Edinburgh and back every day just don’t understand why this diversion is closed off to them. It looks rather like the affluent few are telling the many what to do.