Robert Aldridge: Council needs to plan roadworks to suit residents

It is not right that A8 saw major roadworks at five places in the Edinburgh on the same day, writes Robert Aldridge.

Monday, 26th March 2018, 7:00 am
Robert Aldridge is the Lib Dem group leader at Edinburgh City Council. Picture: Jane Barlow

Why is it beyond the wit of humankind, or at least the council and utilities companies, to co-ordinate roadworks?

In recent weeks those of us living in the west of the city have been hit with an unprecedented number of major roadworks all happening at the same time, leading to huge delays and business disruption. It happens elsewhere in the city too.

Of course there have to be major planned works (like the work at Haymarket) and there will always be emergencies, like gas leaks or water main bursts, which need immediate attention. But it cannot be the case that major works were all needed on the same day on the A8 at Clermiston Road, Balgreen Road, Western Corner, Murrayfield Road and Haymarket.

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All of it I am sure is important work, but not all of it was so urgent that it had to be done at the same time.

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It’s time that the council and utility companies worked out an effective way of scheduling roadworks to suit the residents of the city, rather than the convenience of their own schedules.

Too often as a council we expect people to fit in with our existing services, rather than moulding our services to meet people’s needs.

The council rightly is making inroads into improving what it calls the customer experience. But it still clearly has a long way to go. Whether it’s the unnecessary bureaucracy of having to give full details and create a strong password before you can report a missed bin collection or letters sent out to tenants with contact numbers which simply ring out, we need to do a lot better.

Part of the problem is the council continuing to try to do everything it used to do in the same way with far fewer staff and far fewer resources. That simply won’t work.

That’s why we need to have an adult discussion with residents about what can be done differently, what we expect from one another and how we can make it work with limited resources.

It was fantastic to see Edinburgh recognised once again as the best place in the UK to live. Almost on the same day the new Edinburgh International Festival programme as published. Yet again a magnificent programme of world-class events on our doorstep.

But, talking of limited resources, the SNP Government has still not given the council the power to levy a modest tourist tax to help guarantee the future of our world-leading festivals and maintain our beautiful city for residents and visitors alike.

They have had 10 years in power to think about it. Now it’s time they let us get on with it.

It’s not often politicians praise someone from another party. But I’d like to pass on my very best wishes to former council sparring partner Steve Cardownie. His decision to highlight the issue of prostate cancer through his own experience will, I’m sure, lead to many more men getting tested. I wish him a speedy and full recovery.

Robert Aldridge is the Scottish Liberal Democrat group leader on Edinburgh City Council