Edinburgh potholes: ‘£77million of taxpayers' money needed to bring city’s roads up to scratch’

The cost of fixing potholes on Scotland’s roads is almost £1.7 billion, according to new data, with the City of Edinburgh Council facing a repair backlog worth just over £77 million.

The City of Edinburgh Council had a repair backlog worth just over £77m, according to new data.
The City of Edinburgh Council had a repair backlog worth just over £77m, according to new data.

The figures from local authorities were obtained by the BBC via a Freedom of Information request.

The data suggests it would take £1.68bn of taxpayers' money to repair Scotland’s roads.

The council with the highest repair bill backlog is Dumfries and Galloway Council, with a bill of just over £217m.

Highland Council, meanwhile, had a backlog worth more than £194m, and Argyll and Bute Council one worth £112m.

Six local authorities did not reveal the extent of their road repair backlog – among them East Lothian, Renfrewshire and Aberdeen City.

Glasgow City Council had a repair backlog worth worth £96m.

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Potholes compensation pay-outs in Edinburgh total over £65,000 over the past fou...

Neil Bibby, Scottish Labour's transport spokesman, said the "astonishing figures lay bare the dire state of disrepair Scotland's roads are in after years of neglect".

A Scottish Government spokesman said "despite continued economic uncertainty facing us all due to the pandemic, we are treating councils fairly and providing a real terms increase of 6.3 per cent to local authority budgets for the coming year – despite cuts to Scotland's overall budget by the UK Government".

"The budget provides local government revenue funding amounting to almost £12.7bn – a cash increase of almost £1bn and a real terms increase of £681.8m. In addition, councils will receive a fair share of a further £93.9m, which is currently undistributed."

Last month it was revealed more than £65,000 had been paid out by Edinburgh City Council in compensation for damage from potholes over the past four years.

Figures released under Freedom of Information legislation show a total of more than 28,000 potholes reported last year – more than in any of the previous three years.

But the time taken from a pothole being reported to repairs being carried out has been more than halved from 8.94 days in 2018 to 4.31 days in 2021.

More than 28,000 potholes were reported in 2021.

The number of compensation claims has fluctuated over the past five years – from 135 in 2017 to 399 in 2018, then down to 107 in 2019, up to 356 in 2020 before reaching a record 420 in 2021.

Compensation pay-outs totalled £20,049.94 in 2018, £28,867.47 in 2019, £10,531 in 2020 and £7,265.31 in 2021 – though the council said the incidents involved could have happened in previous years.

Lib Dem transport spokesman Kevin Lang said the state of Edinburgh's roads was “nothing short of shameful”.

He said: “Everywhere you look, there are potholes and broken surfaces across the city causing a danger to cyclists, drivers and public transport. These new figures also show how they are costing the council eye-watering amounts in compensation payments.

"Maintaining our roads is one of the simplest, but most important jobs for any local council. Yet even on this most basic of tasks, the SNP and Labour coalition has failed miserably. It shows why we desperately need fresh leadership on the council which focuses on getting the basics right".

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