Pavements cost city £40m in five years

Shona with her guide dog Murray
Shona with her guide dog Murray
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MORE than £40 million has been spent on improving the Capital’s pavements over the last five years.

The figure puts Edinburgh in the top ten of local authorities for money spent on broken pathways.

Harsh winters, parking on pavements and tram works have been blamed for the damage to the city’s pavements.

Guide dog owner Shona Black, 47, from Leith, said: “It’s not quite so bad when I’m walking with my dog because he will try to avoid anything obvious like holes, but it’s much worse when I’m out with my long cane.

“If the pavements are broken, the cane will catch in the cracks and if it jars, it can be quite sore.”

The £40m figure is revealed in a report published by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, also showing that councils across the UK spent more than £1 billion to repair broken pavements between 2006 and 2010.

The report, Cracking Under Pressure, is based on statistics from a Freedom of Information request to more than 400 councils across Britain.

Despite ranking third – with a repair bill of £40,366,467 – Edinburgh’s expenditure was still £18m less than Nottinghamshire Council, which took the top spot in the table.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association also asked councils how much they spent on compensation claims from people injuring themselves on badly maintained streets. The UK total was £106m, with Edinburgh paying out £865,161.

However, the report pointed out that compensation claims made last year were unlikely to be resolved yet.

Miss Black, an administration support worker for the charity who has been registered blind for 15 years, attributed part of the damage to the city’s pavements to the tram works.

She said: “The pavements in Edinburgh are pretty poor at the moment. I live in Leith and the pavements haven’t been put back to the way they were before the tram works. I haven’t completely fallen over but I’ve had a few near misses.”

Meanwhile, Guide Dogs said one of the most common causes of damage to pavements was parking on them.

The charity’s head of public policy and campaigns, David Cowdrey, said: “We were staggered to discover how much councils are having to spend, some of which is down to inconsiderate parking – a cost that could be easily avoided.”

Ms Black added: “Cars parked on pavements in Edinburgh is a big problem because you have to step on to the road to get round, which puts you in danger. Quite a lot of the time Ferry Road has cars parked on the pavement when I’m walking along there with the dog.”

A city council spokeswoman said: “Edinburgh is an extremely busy city for pedestrians so it’s vital our pavements are in good condition, especially for those who are blind, partially sighted or who have difficulties with mobility.

“Recent severe winters have thrown up big challenges in maintaining pavements and roads but we invest heavily to keep a high standard. We’re confident that we compare very well with other councils.”