Portobello cobbled street to be replaced with asphalt

A CRUMBLING road in the Capital is to be resurfaced with asphalt rather than setts after councillors upheld community fears over cost, safety and disruption.

Council has decided to replace the setts with asphalt. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Council has decided to replace the setts with asphalt. Picture: Ian Rutherford

We told today how city leaders were presented with an official recommendation to renew setts at Brighton Place, Portobello, incurring a cost of around £1.2 million.

This was despite a community council survey which found that a majority of residents were urging roads bosses to remove the setts and re-lay the surface with asphalt.

Council analysis indicates that the cost of using asphalt will be in the region of £400,000.

Speaking after the decision, Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport and environment leader, said: “We’ve gone with what the community council have told us.

“It was a difficult decision and goes against the policy of the council, but I believe it’s the right one considering the cost and disruption of going with setts. And it means we have £800,000 to spend on roads elsewhere.”

Roads bosses initially wanted to re-lay the setts at Brighton Place, Portobello, incurring a cost of around £3730 per metre.

It was estimated resurfacing would take around 56 weeks, with road closures and diversion routes still to be finalised.

However, a Portobello Community Council poll of more than 400 residents found that a majority (57 per cent) supported carrying out the work with asphalt, citing the greater cost, disruption and safety risk associated with using setts.

An official report recommending setts renewal came as city leaders battle to save more than £160m over the next four years.

Opposition figures slammed the original plans for setts.

Councillor Nick Cook, transport and environment spokesman for the Conservatives, and MSP candidate for Edinburgh Eastern, said: “Given the fact that the community council has conducted a consultation which shows that the residents back tarmac, it does seem somewhat nonsensical to go for the highest cost option.”

Leaders at Portobello Community Council also voiced concern about the original plans.

Secretary Sean Watters said: “Personally, I think that, for a lot of people, the underlying issue is actually the fact that the setts were substantially re-laid between 10 and 12 years ago but did not last.

“If you spend the money and it works, that’s one thing, but if you spend £1.2m and four or five years down the line they’re a mess again, that’s a different matter.

“There are lots of people who like the idea of setts but the setts deteriorated very rapidly last time – they fell apart within four or five years and all the council have said is, ‘It could have been done better’.

“Then there’s the 56 weeks of work and what impact that will have on the local high street.”

Although asphalt resurfacing was the preferred option, the survey also found backing for preserving the Brighton Place setts, with 48 per cent of respondents expressing support.

One resident who took part in the survey said: “All attempts at sett reconstruction going back 40-plus years have been expensive failures.

“Lengthy closures and delays have always been followed by the work having to be redone within a short period of time. Certainly not value for money and not justified by citing ‘heritage’.”