MILLIONS of pounds would be poured into making Edinburgh’s pothole-riddled roads fit for the 21st century under an SNP election pledge.
The party says work would get under way within months, with arterial routes undergoing long-lasting repairs or relaid. It says the roads budget would be increased from £12.5 million to £20m should Nationalists form the next administration.
The party said major developers bringing jobs and investment would not move to the Capital unless there was a big improvement in the road network.
The roads budget has been slashed annually, with this year facing the lowest investment since 2004.
Edinburgh SNP leader Steve Cardownie, the current deputy council leader, said the party’s focus was firmly on the economy and transport infrastructure – in turn bringing new jobs.
Launching the manifesto with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and City Centre councillor Alasdair Rankin, Cllr Cardownie said: “Edinburgh is in a much better place than most cities in the UK, and our contribution to the UK economy is greater, by head of the population, than London.
“But we need to make sure we maintain this pace to continue to attract inward investment. We need to develop the St James Quarter, the BioQuarter, the Waterfront, the south-east wedge and the Edinburgh Gateway. It’s imperative for Edinburgh’s wellbeing and to bring in new jobs.”
He added: “In contrast to Labour, who have ruled out any new projects for two years, we would immediately get to work to address these problems. We would increase the roads budget from £12.5m to £20m.
“Inward investors aren’t going to come to these sites and develop their businesses there unless they know that the infrastructure is there, as they would expect, for the 21st century.”
Other key pledges include job creation and an ongoing crackdown on antisocial behaviour.
It also includes an extension of the council’s Edinburgh Guarantee, pledging to ensure that around 300 pupils who leave secondary school without going on to any training, further education or securing a job will not be left behind.
Mr MacAskill said: “Despite the difficult financial background, the problems in the financial sector, Edinburgh is still a great city to live in.
“We’ve seen the arrival of Tesco Bank, and the arrival of Gamesa in Leith. This city is the dynamo for the economy of Scotland. It’s not just the financial centre, it’s renewables biotech, education, outstanding universities.
“We want to make sure this city punches its weight because it can do so much better. Given the opportunities that would come post-2014 [after the referendum], this city would really take off.”
NO TRAM EXTENSION WITHOUT REFERENDUM
A REFERENDUM is likely to be held before any extension of the tram network, the SNP have said.
Extending the line to Newhaven or the ERI – the original “line 3” – has not been ruled out and there may be demand to do so in the future.
Councillor Steve Cardownie, whose party was against the Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven project, said: “If it does happen we have to ensure we have the support of the people of the city.”
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill pledged to get a handle on the tram situation.
Mr MacAskill told the Evening News: “We’ll get it finished.”