Potholes compensation pay-outs in Edinburgh total over £65,000 over the past four years
More than £65,000 has been paid out by Edinburgh City Council in compensation for damage from potholes over the past four years.
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Figures released under Freedom of Information legislation show a total of more than 28,000 potholes reported in 2021, 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.
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The number of compensation claims has fluctuated over the past five years – from 135 in 2107 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.
Tory transport spokesman Graham Hutchison called the payments a waste of taxpayers’ money and launched an attack on transport convener Lesley Macinnes.
He said: “Councillor Macinnes as transport and environment convenor has presided over a rapid deterioration in the condition or our city’s roads, during her five years in the post.
"With a narrow-minded focus on vanity projects and fanciful visions she has entirely failed to fulfil one of the basic functions of her role, ensuring the proper maintenance of the infrastructure for which she is responsible.
"This has resulted in the gratuitous waste of £65,000 of taxpayers money in compensation payments.
"The Conservative group have repeatedly called for a pilot of one of the innovative pothole repair systems, already successfully operating in a number of cities in the UK and globally. The cost of such a pilot would comfortably have been covered by the £65,000 that had now been paid out. Having first questioned the existence of such a system, Councillor Macinnes has subsequently steadfastly refused to look at alternatives to the current failing regime.
"It is time for the convener and her administration colleagues to get their heads out the clouds and focus on the ever-deteriorating surface beneath the feet and wheels of our citizens.”
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".
Councillor Macinnes said the council had teams across Edinburgh working daily to improve the condition of roads and pavements.
“This year we’re investing more than £14m in projects to enhance our roads and footways, and last year teams resurfaced over 45km of roads, with millions more spent repairing road defects. In the last 12 months squads have repaired more than 28,000 potholes. Over recent years our efforts have seen independently-assessed road condition rating improve and we’re keen to see that continue.
“Our teams work extremely hard to make sure our streets are safe and usable by pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and as a result the vast majority of defects are made safe as quickly as possible, negating the need for the public to claim for damage. Any claim we do receive is considered on an individual basis.”