Kevin Buckle: Meet the mole that could dig our city out of a hole

There were two issues I was determined not to get involved in. One was rubbish collection and the other was potholes. However this week I was tempted to retweet a video of a rather clever vehicle for repairing potholes and the floodgates opened!

Saturday, 12th January 2019, 5:00 am
The Road Mole, inset, could answer the prayers of drivers trying to dodge potholes

Jo Mowat the Conservative city centre councillor was quick to suggest it was worth looking at while acknowledging it looked too good to be true. Paul Lawrence, Edinburgh Council’s Director of Place, replied it was just a conceptual animation so indeed too good to be true.

I was sure I’d seen something similar before that did indeed work in the real world and Iain Whyte the Conservative Councillor for Inverleith jogged my memory by mentioning Road Mole, a company based in The Wirral.

Sure enough they have a prototype machine that they have been working on for almost a decade in any spare time they have had in their civil and mechanical engineering company. It turns out they are a small but successful family firm and the fixing of potholes was something they had been asked to look at and had become a labour of love.

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Intrigued as to why we hadn’t heard more about the Road Mole machine I gave them a call. Edinburgh may have been named the worst place for potholes in the UK but Liverpool can’t be far behind and with such a machine on their doorstep you would think that they would have a fleet of these vehicles.

The answer was simple in that the company had only now after all this time started to promote the vehicle. Partly this was because they have recently been up for awards but also because they now have reports on work done seven years ago showing no deterioration.

Impressively, potholes in docklands with heavy vehicle use had been repaired successfully and they had travelled as far as Yorkshire to work on a motorway. As a small company they will now need firm contracts to progress but already have interest from around the UK and Ireland and have even had a request to purchase vehicles from Kuwait.

Back to Twitter and Gareth Barwell, Edinburgh Council’s Head of Place Management promised he would make contact with the Road Mole people so Edinburgh may soon lead the way in pothole repairs rather than heading tables for most potholes per kilometre.

What has impressed Highways England so much is that because the repairs are so long lasting there is a massive cash saving while at the same time only causing a fraction of the disruption of current repair methods.

What is surprising is that one of the biggest advantages of the Road Mole repairs are that they are circular and this has several advantages when it comes to the repair staying intact. Quite why this hasn’t been something utilised before I honestly can’t answer but it will be nice to see a small family firm that has invested a very large six-figure sum developing the Road Mole concept being rewarded and hopefully Edinburgh will be at the front of the queue for having its potholes repaired.

With two different sized vehicles planned, no pothole should be outside their reach and of course more troublesome stretches of road with many defects can still be repaired under a resurfacing programme.

They also repair ironworks which I’m told is manhole covers and the like but hey, one step at a time. Should you spot a Road Mole vehicle in the future you will know to thank Twitter!

It won’t be like this all the time

The Twilight Sad have a new album out on January 18 – It Won’t Be Like This all The Time – and very good it is too. As happens with just about any release these days, fans are faced with a multitude of ways to buy the album.

There is a lovely blue double heavyweight vinyl that is only available from independent retailers and I’m sure will be a popular choice. HMV may be in administration and Coda may have shut their doors in Edinburgh as Dougie and Rose retire but still fans will have no trouble buying the album online or on the high street throughout most of the UK.

However there is no doubt that by the time The Twilight Sad have their next album out things will be very different indeed and almost certainly, but not definitely, in a bad way.

I honestly can’t see HMV and FOPP disappearing completely but they will never be the force they once were and the vinyl bubble that has been predicted to burst may instead be a vinyl balloon that just slowly deflates. We simply cannot go on as we are.

Currently things are nowhere near as bad as they might be at least for more established artists, but never has an album been more aptly titled. Things may be OK just now but one thing is for sure and that is it won’t be like this all the time.

Sing out about Waverley Mall music

The Waverley Mall is on the lookout for singer-songwriters and bands to perform at the centre and entertain their customers in the food court.

A proper stage and sound system has been set up and Jacquelyn the centre’s manager used to manage one of the Virgin Megastores in Glasgow so knows a thing or two about artists playing in-stores.

It’s a great opportunity for young folk in particular to perform to a decent sized audience though all ages are welcome to apply and it is all part of the relatively new owners’ plans to redevelop and repurpose. Having won awards with other shopping centres hopefully they can do the same with Waverley Mall.

There was a Youth Talent Showcase just before Christmas in conjunction with the Youth Radio Network that was a big success which bodes well for similar events in the future.

Anybody interested can get in touch by sending a DM on Twitter with some details to @WaverleyMallSC