Edinburgh council warns condition of city's roads will get worse over the rest of this decade
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A report for the transport and environment committee says there is not enough money even to maintain them in their current condition over the rest of the decade.
And it warns of an increase in accident claims against the council, damage to the council's reputation and a need for more expensive repairs in the long term.
The council set aside more than £15 million in the 2022/23 budget agreed in February for its Roads and Footway Capital Investment Programme for the current year, of which £9.6m was earmarked for carriageway and footways work, with the rest covering street lighting, traffic signals and other roads-related investment.
An additional £1m has also been allocated for improvements to transport infrastructure from extra funding announced later by the Scottish Government. That includes £450,000 for surface enhancements and £300,000 for footway renewals.
But the report says: “Whilst Edinburgh has shown an improvement in the overall condition of the carriageway network in the past few years, unfortunately, with the current budget allocations for carriageway and footway investment within the capital strategy 2020-2030 there are insufficient funds to maintain Edinburgh’s roads in their current condition.
"This will result in deterioration in all classifications of roads across Edinburgh’s road network. This could increase the number of accident claims received and reputational damage to the council. A deterioration will also increase the cost to bring back Edinburgh’s carriageway network to an improving condition as more expensive treatments will be required.”
Lib Dem group leader Kevin Lang said it was the first time officials had warned the condition of the city’s roads would worsen in years ahead. And he said it was “one of the clearest examples” of the impact of Scottish Government cuts to the council’s funding.
He said: "Fixing our roads and pavements is one of the simplest and most basic services which any council can provide. Yet in too many parts of the city, we see potholes and crumbling road surfaces causing a danger to cyclists and drivers.
"This new report from officers gives a dire warning that Edinburgh's roads are set to get even worse over the coming years, all because of a lack of proper funding. It also forecasts more accidents and further claims, costing the council even more in compensation pay-outs.
"This is just the latest example of the damaging impacts of the SNP's year-on-year cuts to Edinburgh Council's budget and shows why we desperately need fair funding of Scotland's capital city so it can get the basics right".
Transport convener Scott Arthur acknowledged the state of the roads was not satisfactory and the council faced difficulties in trying to address the problem. He said: "People only have to look out their window to see that the condition of roads and footpaths in Edinburgh simply isn't good enough. As an administration we're going to try our very best within limited resources to improve road conditions, but it is a real challenge."