The Tories have launched a pothole campaign to highlight the decaying state of roads across the country in a move that could bring an extra £3 million to Edinburgh road repairs.
Over the past seven years, central road maintenance funding from the Scottish Government has been cut by 20 per cent, leading to a surge in potholes and flooding on roads. Severe winter weather ravaged the city’s roads, causing “staggering” damage totalling nearly £250,000 in compensation from Edinburgh Council in the past ten years.
The situation has been described as “untenable” by the Scottish Conservatives, who are calling for a £100m boost to road maintenance budgets across the country.
The Tories hope the Save Our Roads campaign will raise awareness of the decaying state of roads across Scotland and bring the issue into the national agenda.
Under the proposal the council would be able to bid for a share of a Scottish-wide Pothole Fund of which £100m would be set aside over the next term of the Scottish Parliament – £20m a year.
The fund will be allocated based on the percentage of the council’s road maintenance budget.
Edinburgh Council set aside £14.805m on wider road repairs for 2018/19, with a further boost of £925,000 in revenue spending.
And with a combined budget of £554m in 2016/17, it would mean the Capital would be entitled to bid for about £3m of the pothole fund over five years.
A council spokesperson said: “We appreciate the frustration potholes and other defects cause to road users. That’s why we continue to invest millions of pounds each year to maintain and improve Edinburgh’s roads and in 2018/19 will be spending a further £925,000 to enhance the network.
“We’re making every effort to address the quality of our roads through a variety of methods, focusing on a comprehensive improvement plan, taking a more preventative approach and, importantly, working with utility companies to ensure their road repairs are up to scratch.
“It’s important that the public let us know when they spot problems too and I would encourage people to report potholes and other defects on our website.”
Scotland has 154,000 potholes, more than any single English region and more than Wales, Northern Ireland, the East Midlands and South East London combined. In Edinburgh, more than £241,000 has been paid out in compensation since 2007.
MSP Gordon Lindhurst said he believed the surge in compensation claims had put councils in an impossible cycle. He said: “Almost a quarter of a million pounds has been wasted on compensation arising as a result of potholes in Edinburgh over the last ten years, money which should have been invested in maintaining roads in the first place.”
MSP Miles Briggs added: “The state of potholes across Lothian is staggering and this fund would go a long way to repairing thousands of potholes.”