Broken pavements mean elderly resident is a virtual prisoner in her own home - Sue Webber
For an elderly Balerno lady with mobility issues I spoke to recently, the problem is almost literally on her doorstep. The pavement condition is so bad she is becoming a virtual prisoner in her own home, because the road surfaces are so badly broken and uneven that her walking aid is practically useless, and she fears a fall.
Despite her distress, she wanted to speak to me personally, so her daughter made the considerable effort to drive her over.
Mums with buggies and wheelchair users also find the street hard to navigate, so I contacted Edinburgh Council to find out when it was last surveyed and if it could be resurfaced. “We have now logged this enquiry for inspection with our area inspector,” came the reply, and that was it. Computer says whatever.
We all know money is tight and no council can attend to every call for help at the drop of a hard hat, and it would be unfair to say all roads are neglected. Lanark Road, for instance, has recently been resurfaced, and to the delight of inconvenienced locals, the work involved removing the controversial road-narrowing bollards which did nothing to improve safety.
Residents were able to park outside their homes because the yellow lines had gone, and on Sunday there was room for parents to park up next to Dovecote Park where Currie Star football teams were playing.
But joy was short lived. “Help us Sue, they're putting the bollards back in,” said a desperate email from an avid commuter cyclist from Currie.
They are indeed coming back, and what’s galling is the reinstatement cost comes from the capital roads improvement fund, money which could be spent on repairing Balerno’s broken pavements, or hundreds like them across the city.
They are being reintroduced before the consultation period for the experimental traffic restriction order in the area is completed, but what if local opinion is overwhelmingly opposed to their reintroduction?
The consultation looks very like the sham it was always suspected to be, because even an organisation as shambolic as City of Edinburgh Council wouldn’t replace barriers it had just removed if there was a fair chance they would have to be taken out again.
But the bollards make the road safer, militant cyclists will claim, but £1.2 million has just been spent upgrading the Water of Leith walkway after the council botched a resurfacing project. It’s now pristine and puddle-free, so cyclists have two good routes through the area, while people like the Balerno lady are scared to leave their homes.
Meanwhile, £17.5m is being spent on a bike link between the North Edinburgh path network at Roseburn to the Union Canal, which will still involve crossing the busy Dundee Street, and that’s on top of the £19.4m being spent on the City Centre West to East Link from Roseburn to Leith Walk.
OK, so much of the money comes from the Sustrans transport “charity”, but it seems the council can find big money for big statements, while the queue for bread and butter grows longer.
Sue Webber is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian