Cyclists back calls for national aid to fix roads

Lesley Hinds told the News that funds were needed to sort crumbling roads. Picture: Scott Louden

Lesley Hinds told the News that funds were needed to sort crumbling roads. Picture: Scott Louden

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CALLS for extra government cash to fix the Capital’s crumbling roads have won backing from cycling campaigners.

Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds earlier this week told the Evening News that funding was needed to meet the £260 million repair bill facing the city’s streets.

She was speaking after the News revealed that a secret council report had uncovered the extent of the problem across the Capital.

But while the Scottish Government has already rejected the plea, cycling campaigners have said Edinburgh should be a priority for financial help due to its efforts to boost public transport use.

Ian Maxwell, a spokesman for Spokes cycling campaign group, said: “It is a city which is taking seriously the idea of improving public transport, walking and cycling – which is in line with the government’s aims. As a city that has been putting significant amounts of importance into that then that should be a reason for going up the priority list.

“That is as strong an argument as saying we should have more money as we are the Capital.”

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack said yesterday that the £50m saving from the new Forth crossing should be invested in council projects.

And Mr Maxwell said: “We would obviously welcome funding for road repairs and we feel that the Scottish Government would do better to invest in road repairs across Scotland rather than building new roads and bridges.

“If you build more roads you tend to generate more traffic and then you wear down the roads you already have.”

Meanwhile, business leaders said transport bosses should focus on the “compelling” case for prioritising local 
maintenance.

But Gordon Henderson, senior development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said that Edinburgh should not be given priority over other areas when it comes to government funding.

He said: “The FSB believes more action is required to encourage Scotland’s councils to prioritise local maintenance spend, either on their own or within regional, cross-border partnerships.

“As we have argued previously, providing a central, dedicated local road repair fund to which local authorities could apply would be one way of doing this.”

Bumpy roads have also proven a problem for Jerry Stewart, who spends thousands of pounds per year repairing damage to vehicles caused by potholes at his Bathgate-based firm Eagle Couriers.

Mr Stewart, a director at the firm, said: “I would just like to see someone taking the initiative to get the roads sorted.

“There has been no improvement over the last few years. They have just been putting a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.”