Edinburgh City Council is to deploy a two-man team to pre-empt expensive lawsuits by trawling the streets of the Capital in search of cracked pavements in need of repair.
City chiefs will hope the Capital’s own “slab boys” will get the job done, now that they are investing £220,000 to create a crack two-man repair team to tackle the city’s treacherous wobbly paving stones.
Councillors are expected to rubber-stamp the investment as part of the city’s annual road repair package. Rather than waiting for someone to trip over a loose paving slab and issue a complaint, the team will proactively go out and scour the city centre for broken pavements.
Transport bosses hope the initiative will improve the appearance of the Capital’s roads, as well as cutting down on complaints, injuries and claims following trips and falls.
Roddy Smith, chief executive of city centre business district Essential Edinburgh, said any investment in improving the quality of the city’s footways was money well spent.
“We want to make George Street in particular an attractive destination for pedestrians to walk, and that means we need repairs done safely and quickly,” he said. “This will make a big difference.”
Charity Capability Scotland also hailed the plans, saying additional investment would make getting around the Capital easier for residents with reduced mobility. A spokeswoman said: “This is good news for the many disabled people who want to get out and about in the Capital.”
However, Michael Apter, chair of the West End Association, said repairs would be useless unless authorities put a stop to the cause of much of the damage: parking on pavements.
He said: “Whatever they do, they need to make sure it’s protected. There’s no point spending £220,000 replacing cracked paving slabs if an HGV driver decides he is going to mount the kerb and crack them all the following day.”
A total £5 million of additional spending is being allocated over the next financial year for repairing damaged roads and pavements, including the money ring-fenced for the city’s “slab boys”.
A budget of £18.07m will be available to resurface and replace the worst roads and pavements, with busy footways set to be rebuilt by March 2016, including both sides of Hanover Street, the east side of Blair Street, the north side of Cowgate, and much of Warrender Park Terrace.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport and environment convener, said: “We already have neighbourhood teams responding to complaints about paving slabs but this new hard landscaping team will be out on patrol proactively to spot problems. Broken slabs can pose a real danger to pedestrians, particularly anyone with mobility issues, so it’s great we’ve been able to find this money to tackle the matter pre-emptively.”