Leaders: ‘An astute move by the council leader’

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The state of Edinburgh’s roads and pavements has been a persistent complaint by visitors and residents. Today, Edinburgh City Council’s new administration has announced that the budget for fixing the Capital’s roads is to double to £24.5 million for the coming year.

And instead of patching up potholes, the roads will be properly surfaced to ensure the fix lasts much longer.

The move is an astute one by council leader Andrew Burns who will be aware that fixing roads has a political dividend. Put simply, voters will notice if things are improving, because we all use the roads. Increase the budget in other areas and fewer of us will spot the difference.

Burns and the Labour-SNP coalition can also claim that the change is a victory for their new open approach to delivering the city’s annual budget. Previously the budget was presented to opposition councillors just 15 minutes before the budget debate.

A ludicrous situation that stifled real debate and resulted in a weaker final document.

The 2013 budget – due to be passed next Thursday – was published in draft form in November last year and then in near-final form today. The public has been allowed its say, the opposition will have a further week to demand changes and the debate itself should be informed.

City finance leader Alasdair Rankin has said it was clear from the consultation that improvements to roads and pavements were high on the public’s agenda.

The council can now claim to have responded to that. The increase in the roads budget is also good news for those on two wheels as six per cent of transport funding is earmarked for cyclists.

Parking mad

They have not become known for their understanding nature over the years.

Edinburgh’s parking meanies are instead renowned for their strict enforcement of the rules, whether for hearses or the Scottish rugby team.

But surely the case today of Good Samaritan Lesley Mair is the exception. Lesley had stopped to help with a medical emergency in Portobello and while this may not have been obvious at first to the attendant, it was quickly pointed out.

But rather than take account of this her car was handed a £60 fine anyway. Hopefully, the city council will investigate the circumstances and overturn the ticket.

Meanwhile, let’s hope some lessons in common sense will follow.