Anger as ‘temporary’ Castle Street patch-up to stay

The patch of tarmac has been on Castle Street for two years. Picture: JANE BARLOW
The patch of tarmac has been on Castle Street for two years. Picture: JANE BARLOW
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A “TEMPORARY” eyesore blighting a city street has become semi-permanent because utility bosses cannot find the rare stone needed to finish the job.

Thousands of expensive granite setts were laid in Castle Street in 2006 as part of an improvement project costing around £2 million.

But a large section of the stonework outside the TSB bank had to be ripped up in 2014 to allow electrical contractors to carry out emergency repairs.

Because the original setts had been laid in cement rather than sand, workers were unable to remove the stonework without destroying it.

They then used tarmac to patch up the damaged street, which is located in the World Heritage Site.

Two years later, the setts have still not been replaced, amid claims that the type of granite needed is “very rare”.

Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, said: “Does the city council not keep a replacement supply of setts used in the inevitable event that utilities and telecommunications companies dig up the road surface? Why are the setts so hard to source? Was this not a consideration when procuring them in the first place? We need some expertise within or available to the council as maintaining setts is proving to be a concerning issue.”

Joanna Mowat, Tory councillor for the city centre, said the problem “raised issues” about council contracts.

She added: “People doing contracts for capital works don’t necessarily talk to people doing the maintenance about what’s required.

“When you commission a project you need to think about how it’s going to be maintained, whether materials are in limited supply and how easy they are to source. Long-term maintenance should be 
informing the decisions taken at the beginning.”

ScottishPower, which carried out the repairs in 2014, was today unable to confirm when and if staff would be able to source the materials needed.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “This work was essential as we had to carry out an emergency repair on a underground cable to reconnect electricity supplies in the area. We have been trying to source this type of granite which appears to be very rare without success and are working with the council to find a solution.”

A council spokesman added: “This reinstatement work will be carried out by ScottishPower, who are in the process of obtaining the appropriate materials. A temporary reinstatement is currently in place and is inspected monthly.”

The Castle Street project was the first of a series of public realm improvements to “enhance the city centre experience” and “increase footfall”. A road surface was laid using granite setts and Caithness flags, along with new street furniture and improved lighting.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com