Edinburgh’s potholes quadruple in two years

A pothole in the road at the junction of Ferry Road and Coburg Street. Picture: Greg Macvean
A pothole in the road at the junction of Ferry Road and Coburg Street. Picture: Greg Macvean
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THE number of potholes in Edinburgh’s roads almost quadrupled in two years.

Official figures show 9342 potholes were reported to the city council in 2014 - but by last year the figure had reached 35,329.

And added together the depth of the Capital’s potholes is 1413 metres - more than 17 times the height of Castle Rock.

The data, gathered by insurance firm Confused.com, also showed compensation payouts by the council over potholes soared from £26,113 in 2014 to £69,385 last year.

The figures come as winter weather looms with the fear of a worsening pothole problem.

Confused.com obtained figures for councils across the UK using freedom of information legislation. Scotland came out worst with a total of 153,310 potholes, calculated to amount to a total depth of 6354m, more than 27 times deeper than Loch Ness.

Edinburgh’s potholes were significantly worse than Glasgow’s at 525m and Aberdeen’s at 215m.

Tory councillor Callum Laidlaw said: “Edinburgh is particularly bad when it comes to potholes and we all recognise that.

“The major issue for the city is utility companies failing to properly replace the road surface, not necessarily poor maintenance by the council.

“The council needs to be a lot firmer as far as utility companies are concerned and make sure repairs are done to the right standard.

“I think we have been pretty remiss about that for a long time and it’s coming home to roost now.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Kevin Lang said the latest figures suggested the Capital’s roads were “crumbling around us”.

He said: “One of the most basic services a council has to provide is maintaining the roads and pavements. But it is clear this administration is failing on that.

“It is clear we are going to have to look again at the money allocated for this.”

He said he knew from experience in his own ward Almond - which includes Silverknowes, Cramond, Kirkliston and South Queensferry - that it was not just a matter of funding the work but also ensuring the right staff were in place.

“We have had a shortage of roads engineers and delays in recruitment which have led to hold-ups,” he said.

“The shocking figures which have now emerged absolutely ring true. In the six months I have been a councillor there are roads I have reported which still remain unresolved.

“And this ends up costing the council a fortune because we have to pay out on insurance claims.

“That money would be much better spent fixing the roads and pavements and potholes in the first place.”

The Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (Scots) said it was “not possible” to repair all the roads in Scotland in need of maintenance due to budget cuts.

And they put the backlog of repairs on Scotland’s roads at £1.67 billion.

RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said: “Poorly maintained local roads are not only a nuisance they are expensive, causing damage to tens of thousands of vehicles every year. Most significantly though they pose a serious safety risk to drivers and particularly cyclists and motorcyclists who swerve to avoid them.

“Edinburgh appears to be one of the pothole hotspots in Scotland. However, drivers across Scotland are becoming increasingly frustrated about the condition of their local roads.

“Research for the latest RAC Report on Motoring found that concern about the condition of local roads and potholes was higher in Scotland than in any other part of the United Kingdom, with 17 per cent ranking it as their biggest motoring concern making it the number one concern.

“Local authorities have a tough job to do in the face of mounting budget pressures, so we’d encourage the Scottish Government to work closely with them to give them more funding certainty and clarity so councils can adequately plan ahead to improve road surfaces.”

The council said the figures included all road defects, not just potholes, and the big rise reflected a change in the way they were recorded.

A spokeswoman said: “We take great care to ensure Edinburgh’s roads and pavements are as safe and well-maintained as possible for all residents and visitors and each year we invest many millions of pounds.

“We take a preventative approach to repairs, tackling roads which are starting to deteriorate using less expensive treatments. This helps us to improve more of the road network every year by delaying the need for more costly resurfacing works.

“We are also continuously inspecting reinstatements by utility companies in order to identify poor and inadequate repairs. Our work on the Edinburgh Roadworks Ahead Agreement aims to encourage such companies to make improvements in this area too.

“However, we do appreciate the frustration caused by road defects, and would encourage the public to report any they see to us.”

ian.swanson@scotsman.com