Edinburgh husband ‘appalled’ over council’s inaction to repair pothole that left wife with broken jaw

Edinburgh mum sustained a fractured jaw and broken teeth after she was thrown from her bike last month
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An Edinburgh man has labelled the City of Edinburgh Council ‘negligent’ for failing to repair a pothole that left his wife with a broken jaw and smashed teeth.

Six weeks ago, Edinburgh nurse Heather Packwood was cycling on Bridge Road when a pothole caused her to fall from her bike. She sustained several injuries including broken teeth and fingers and a broken jaw in three places. Her injuries saw her taken into a more than four-hour surgery in hospital.

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This week her husband Steve said he is ‘shocked’ to see that no efforts had been made to repair the pothole that caused his wife’s accident and that leaving the road unchanged presents a danger to other cyclists.

"In my view it is absolutely appalling.” Steve Packwood said he can't understand why the council has not repaired the pothole that caused his wife's accident"In my view it is absolutely appalling.” Steve Packwood said he can't understand why the council has not repaired the pothole that caused his wife's accident
"In my view it is absolutely appalling.” Steve Packwood said he can't understand why the council has not repaired the pothole that caused his wife's accident

Despite the pothole being flagged to the council in August 2022, the road defect was – and still is – categorised as low risk, meaning its repair falls within an unspecified time scale under ‘programmed work.’ But Steve said no action being taken showed ‘complete negligence on the part of the council.’

Steve said: “It was one thing to not repair the hole in the months leading up to the accident – but to have been notified that there has been a serious accident that was caused by a pothole where someone was badly injured and to not do something to rectify that, in my view, is absolutely appalling.” He added: “There are hundreds of pot holes across this city that can create a risk for cyclists but they know that this one is dangerous and they’ve done nothing to fix it and I think that’s appalling and negligent on their part.”

Steve explained that Heather’s accident on June 15 forced the couple to cancel a family holiday that was booked for the following day and Heather’s ongoing recovery means she is still unable to return to work as a nurse and also had to withdraw from her role as head nurse at an annual golf tournament. Steve said: “It’s affected us massively as a family. My wife has not been able to eat solid food for five weeks. This past Sunday was our 30th wedding anniversary and we would have loved to have gone out and had a big meal to celebrate but she was only able to drink juice and eat some egg.”

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Heather, who was impacted psychologically and emotionally by the accident, said it is ‘very concerning’ for the many cyclists who use the road. She added: “It’s very sad to see that nothing has been done to protect other people. I’ve seen this pothole before but this time it got me.”

Edinburgh mum Heather Packwood has been left with horror injuries after her bike hit a pothole on June 15Edinburgh mum Heather Packwood has been left with horror injuries after her bike hit a pothole on June 15
Edinburgh mum Heather Packwood has been left with horror injuries after her bike hit a pothole on June 15

An October 2022 council report, that sets out criteria for road safety inspections, lists five categories for road defects from priority 1 (critical risk) to priority 4 (consider for planned works programme) and one category that deems defects as ‘No Action Required.’ Where priority 1 defects are repaired with 24 hours, potholes categorised as priority 4 – like the one on Bridge Road – are ‘considered to be of low risk’ and ‘not classed as safety defects’ with the report stating ‘no immediate response is required.’

But Steve disagrees with this assessment. He said: “It’s definitely not a low risk. There was an accident that occurred specifically as a result of that pothole.” He added: “It’s a considerable risk because the facts are now there that an injury has been caused.”

Councillor Scott Arthur, transport and environment convener, said: “I share Mr Packwood’s frustration that this defect has not yet been made good despite the council knowing that it may have contributed to his wife’s accident.

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“I understand that officers inspected the site in line with the council’s risk-based approach to repairing potholes, and decided that the defect did not need to be prioritised for repair. This suggests to me that the Transport Committee should reconsider the funding it has allocated to dealing with reactive repairs to allow defects like this to be repaired more quickly, I shall be discussing this issue with council officers.”

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