Martin Hannan: Raging about the roadworks

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If you want to be a second-class citizen in Edinburgh, just buy yourself a car.

You will be immediately treated like a pariah, the owner of a machine that is apparently such a threat to the future of the planet that it is considered an enemy by those in power here.

I used to think that the city council hated motorists and wanted to send us all packing off the streets so that they would be left to the buses – most of which the council owns and which make the council a nice wee profit – and their beloved trams.

Leaving aside the inherent unfairness of the council favouring its buses and trams over car users, nowadays I just think the council doesn’t have a clue about how to deal with automobiles of any kind, because it treats the Capital’s roads like dirt.

Look around you and you will see the evidence of how inept this council is when it comes to roads – the sheer amount of roadworks it allows at one time is evidence aplenty that the council doesn’t know what it is doing.

On one journey into and out of the city centre last week, I counted 15 different sets of roadworks on my route.

The council’s own list of roadworks for this week extends to five pages, and includes everything from sewer works at Kirkliston to footway resurfacing in Leith, via the rockface works around Edinburgh Castle.

There are more than 90 roadworks sites listed on the council website for this week, and yet again the council and the utility companies comprise the vast majority of them.

And for some reason, a few roadworks from Midlothian have sneaked into the Edinburgh list – how very helpful – and that merely points up the fact that Midlothian Council also has its own list which, by comparison, is minuscule, though I suspect they just plan things better south of the bypass.

All I know is that Edinburgh at the moment is awash with roadworks, many of which involve diversions, road closures, temporary traffic lights and just sheer disruption.

There are always emergency repairs, as roads by their nature are liable to crumbling. Clearly a lot of roadworks are to do with improvements to the city – you can’t really complain about upgrades to two junctions on Easter Road at London Road and Regent Road (though do these really need to take eight weeks?). The utility companies also need to upgrade, improve and repair their cables and pipes – but why do these all seem to happen at the one time? Sheer bad planning, that’s why.

Then along comes the news revealed in this paper yesterday that the council is set to cut its road repairs budget by a third in the next financial year and axe one of its three repair squads. That is to save just £185,000 out of a repairs fund of £586,000, which itself is a totally inadequate sum.

Don’t forget, an investigation by the Evening News last year uncovered a secret report that £260 MILLION would be needed to bring Edinburgh’s roads up to scratch, while the entire annual budget for all carriageway and pavement works is just £7m.

Cutting the emergency repairs budget is another insult to the hard-pressed motorists of this city. It must not be allowed to proceed.

Cheers and pain

Well done the Scottish rugby boys for making the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Commiserations to Gordon Strachan and his men for their Euro 2016 loss. One out of two ain’t bad.

Trident is too close for comfort

We all know that Britain’s Trident deterrent is based quite some distance from Edinburgh, at Faslane and Coulport on the Clyde – actually, on the Gare Loch and Loch Long.

Yet if there was some sort of accident, never mind some enemy dropping a nuke there, if the prevailing winds from the west are blowing then nuclear fallout could be over Edinburgh within hours.

We now learn that David Cameron wants to get backing for Trident Mark II pushed through Parliament before Christmas. This SNP member says it is incumbent on all political parties to state their position on replacing Trident NOW.

Don’t worry, it’s only £10k…

I am becoming increasingly concerned about the witchhunt targeting Kezia Dugdale.

How dare Labour activists in Edinburgh Eastern call in the police to investigate the £10,000 that went missing from the local party’s funds?

How dare the party treasurer be suspended and how dare reputable journalists like Ian Swanson of the Evening News ask awkward questions about “ten-k-gate”?

This is unacceptable harassment of Labour’s leader. After all, the money went missing before the fragrant Kezia even forced her way into the constituency, just as Michelle Thomson’s business dealings long pre-dated her election as an MP.

No, Kezia Dugdale must not answer any questions about when she knew about the missing money or what she is doing about it. Fair enough?

Heritage status is valuable

For those numpties who don’t know why the Old Town and New Town’s World Heritage Site status is vital, let me point out the simple fact that the designation helps preserve areas of outstanding universal value for future generations.

Cities and countries across the world are desperate for the award – if it isn’t of massive benefit, why would they bother?