Portobello setts bill is a load of old cobbles – John McLellan

The setts in Brighton Place are being replaced. Picture: Greg Macvean
The setts in Brighton Place are being replaced. Picture: Greg Macvean
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It’s a very gradual process, but one which, it might be argued, could enhance the historic nature of so many Edinburgh streets, something to which most people can contribute.

Like the exposure of Roman mosaics, all over town the old setted streets are re-emerging, bringing back a flavour of yesteryear, and with the added bonus that the rumble they create means there is no need to heed 20mph speed limits because the rattle of your teeth fillings is enough to keep your speed down. Cyclists need padded gloves to prevent the onset of Vibration White Finger.

I refer of course to the onward spread of the pothole, which thanks to a Freedom of Information request from Miles Briggs MSP we now know is running to 74 complaints a day with a total of 26,610 last year. The city council says it repairs 27,500 a year but spends £1.1m on “reactive” fixes, in other words patches which soon need re-doing, such as the one pointed out to me by a constituent this week next to the bus-stop on Sleigh Drive. Sure enough, the combination of a patch and the weight of buses has created a gouge big enough to plant potatoes. No setts, though.

The council is currently spending £1.2m relaying the setts on Brighton Place so maybe the plan is just to stop doing any repairs at all and the whole city can look like Portobello too . . . and save a few bob into the bargain. Shame about the insurance claims.

Public might deviate from the party line

According to the council leadership “more and more people are convinced” the Newhaven tram line completion “is the right direction for Edinburgh”. But the question is how many is “more and more” and how do they know what the public thinks now the bill has reached £207m? As the unscientific consultation was conducted before the new estimate was revealed, so the answer can only be they are making this up.

If public opinion really mattered they would commission a reliable, properly weighted, independent city-wide survey. The Edinburgh-based polling expert Mark Diffley, recently of IPSOS-MORI who is now working with ex-SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson, would do it for a snip, I’m sure, and in any case they’ve got £257m to play with which apparently won’t affect council services.

So go on then, prove me wrong. Or might it produce an answer they don’t want to hear; a bit like a referendum?

The classroom consequences

I doubt many Evening News readers will shed a tear that private school fees are set to rocket by around £900 a year, thanks to a combination of the forthcoming loss of charitable rates relief, teachers’ pay rises of at least nine per cent and increased pension contributions.

A new study estimates 1750 Edinburgh children will be forced out of the private system as a result, but people might still not be too worried. But when the council is forced to redraw catchment areas for already over-subscribed schools like Boroughmuir, Gillespie’s and Royal High, just wait for the outcry. Unintended consequences strike again.

Get your skates on

The saga of Portobello High, St John’s Primary school and Treverlen Park is set to take another twist with a public meeting next week called by Northfield & Willowbrae Community Council. It follows a petition by skateboarders and their friends concerned about a rumoured reduction in the facilities proposed for the site of the old primary school demolished at the end of last year. The meeting takes place at the new primary school next Thursday, February 28, at 6pm.