Huge repair backlog leaves Edinburgh roads ‘most potholed for 20 years’

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A backlog of more than 1,500 potholes are waiting to be filled, causing fury and frustration for Edinburgh’s road users.

The council says a gritting emergency, caused by recent bad weather, explains why 75 new potholes are reported every day.

Capital residents say they are fed up at the dire state of some of the city’s roads, with many demanding stronger action by transport chiefs.

In the past two months alone the council has had 4,467 potholes reported to them.

The city council has sent additional pothole squads out on the streets and have repaired 66 per cent of those potholes – including 251 they say “would cause damage to tyres or pose danger to cyclists”.

However, road users are becoming increasingly agitated with the condition of the roads they drive, cycle or walk on a daily basis.

Edinburgh Taxi Association member Ali McPherson, 53, said: “Edinburgh’s roads are the worst I’ve seen in 20 years of being a taxi driver.

“Some of the roads are 
absolutely disgraceful. They need to be done properly and not just patched up.

“We have bad weather year after year and this winter hasn’t been as bad as some of the ones we’ve had in the past few years.

“I don’t think the £1 million in additional funding is going to be enough.

“There’s too many and they need to be spending more on specific areas such as London Road, Queensferry Road and St John’s Road.

“I get my car serviced every ten to 12 weeks and my bills have been rising.

“The impact these roads are having on my vehicle and I’m having to replace ball points and shock absorbers more than I should have to.”

The city council has proposed almost £1 million of extra funding within this year’s budget to combat the issues on the roads.

Cllr Scott Arthur has experienced Edinburgh’s best and worst roads while travelling on his bike.

The Labour Colinton/Fairmilehead representative was astonished about the quantity of potholes he discovered on a recent cycle in the south of the city.

He said: “Two weeks ago I cycled around Buckstone and Colinton Mains in my Ward and spotted almost 40 potholes which I felt needed immediate attention.

“As far as I know, none of these has been made safe as the repair team are supporting gritting activities.

“This week’s budget vote should see more funding allocated to road and footpath maintenance, but that’s unlikely to be enough to reverse the damage resulting from ten years of Scottish 
Government cuts. Real change is needed.”

A total of 9,342 potholes were reported to the city council in 2014 – but by 2016 the figure had reached 35,329.

Between April and November last year, 1,976 per month were reported to the city council, in comparison to the past two months which has seen complaints soar to 2,350.

The council’s road teams have been under more pressure with the urgent need of helping treat roads with grit and filling grit bins during the frosty weather this winter.

Conservative transport spokesman Nick Cook told the Evening News: “These figures make clear what residents already know – our roads are beset with potholes. Winter aside, council statistics claim that the situation is improving.

“But too often this still fails to match up with the everyday experience of Edinburgh taxpayers.

“I welcome the recent Road Service Improvement Plan, but the fact is it has been introduced far too late.

“More effective action could and should have been implemented years earlier.”

The council’s Road Services Improvement Plan confirmed in December that the council has reduced the overall number of outstanding defects from 2,400 in August 2017 to 1,256 on October 30.

Cllr Lesley Macinnes said the pothole issue had been 
accelerated due to the wintery conditions in Edinburgh over the past few months.

But she vows the local authority is doing all it can to fix the problems on the Capital’s roads.

The transport and environment convener, said: “There is no doubt that winter weather poses a significant challenge for road maintenance, as is the case across the country.

“We appreciate the frustration potholes cause to all road users, and are making every effort to address this, as we do throughout the year.

“We will be allocating additional squads to carry out repairs, clearing the backlog in the coming months, and have proposed almost £1m 
additional funding in this year’s budget to focus on roads and street lighting repairs.

“This will build on the effects of our Roads Services Improvement Plan, introduced last year with the aim of improving standards, which saw the number of road defects decreasing in the lead-up to winter.”

Cllr Macinnes insists spending £100m on roads and pavements, including transport links, will benefit the whole of the city.

She said: “We’re placing just as much emphasis on improving transport links for the people that live in outlying communities too.

“We are spending £100m on roads and pavements so the investment is considerable, not just in money, but how we’re servicing those problems.

“I do hope, however, that the people of the city notice how much we have spent with the additional allocated funding.”

kieran.murray@jpress.co.uk