Edinburgh Council set to embark on massive programme to fix roads, pavements and paths. No thanks to the SNP! – Kevin Lang

“Look Kevin, I just want the council to fix the roads.” If I tried to summarise the vast bulk of the feedback I get from my constituents, it’s this (supplemented by the occasional expletive).
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It is little wonder why. Yes, Edinburgh is a proud capital city. It is one of the world’s great tourism destinations and an international centre of culture. I truly love living here but, like so many, I squirm in embarrassment at the state of parts of it.

Roads and pavements that more resemble the surface of the moon than that of a major global city. Potholes, broken paths, cracked and crumbling footways. It’s bad and has been getting worse for years.

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This is why, at last year’s council election, the Liberal Democrats put fixing our roads, paths and pavements at the very top of our political priorities. It was not an accident that we doubled our number of councillors in that election. It was also our main promise when we won in Corstorphine/Murrayfield last month, securing our highest-ever share of the vote in a Scottish council by-election.

So when we came to put together our first Liberal Democrat budget of this council term, we were determined to get action. No more talking, no more planning or strategising; it was time to get stuff done.

Despite a tough financial backdrop, we managed to get £11 million extra for road and pavement resurfacing projects. Last week, the transport committee of the council agreed how this money would be spent. It’s impressive. A huge list of 123 roads and 109 paths and pavements will now be resurfaced this year. Altogether, it is one of the biggest investments in Edinburgh’s transport infrastructure in a single year.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t going to solve the problem. In fact, it won’t solve half of the problem. But it’s a big, bold and important step forward in addressing a decade of under-investment. I’m proud it’s happening because of the Liberal Democrats.

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Of course, you’d think this positive investment would be supported cross-party, wouldn’t you? After all, who would possibly want to stand in the way of fixing our crumbling roads and pavements? Who on earth could think this a bad idea?

More than 200 roads, pavements and paths are to be repaired in Edinburgh (Picture: Ian Rutherford)More than 200 roads, pavements and paths are to be repaired in Edinburgh (Picture: Ian Rutherford)
More than 200 roads, pavements and paths are to be repaired in Edinburgh (Picture: Ian Rutherford)

Well, there are 18 answers and it’s called the group of Scottish National Party councillors. The SNP bitterly opposed our budget and the extra £11 million for our roads and pavements. Astonishingly, they wanted just a tenth of this extra money. It would have forced council officers to take a big red pen to the plan, scoring out dozens and dozens of resurfacing projects.

Even now, despite the huge benefit of this extra investment across the city’s roads and pavement network, SNP councillors still want the recent budget overturned. It goes to show how out of touch they are.

For the Liberal Democrats, we will continue to focus on what our residents tell us matters most. The state of all our roads, paths and pavement can’t all be fixed in a single year. But we are determined that what’s been achieved in 2023 is a springboard to even more investment in the years to come.

Kevin Lang is the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Edinburgh Council

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