CITY bosses have been accused of giving Nicola Sturgeon “special treatment” after the pavement outside her Edinburgh residence was quietly and swiftly repaired following complaints.
Photos of the First Minister meeting Theresa May, the new prime minister, on the steps of Bute House in Charlotte Square last month attracted criticism over the “horrendous” state of uneven paving stones outside the Georgian home.
Now campaigners have accused the council of favouritism after workmen fixed the shabby pavement in a matter of weeks due to the bad publicity – while walkways elsewhere in the city lie neglected.
Marion Williams, director of heritage group the Cockburn Association, said the move “just reinforces the perception that politicians get special treatment”.
She added: “It’s the typical thing that gets us all going. Politicians get preferential treatment and the rest of us just have to cope. They put barriers up straight away – and there had not been barriers for years.
“At the Cockburn Association, so many people are always telling us of the awful state of the roads and pavements in their area.
“When you get a World Heritage site status, and you celebrate it and use it to bring in millions of tourists, you need to plan and you need to set money aside.
“If you are going to celebrate that all these people pile into the city, some of that money has to go back into the city.”
More than 200 people have been injured after tripping on city pavements in the last two-and-a-half years, according to recent data released under Freedom of Information laws.
Almost £77,000 has been dished out in compensation by the city council since 2014 – with Rose Street and Picardy Place highlighted as particular accident hotspots.
Injuries ranged from from broken limbs to sprains, with one person pocketing £16,000 after a fall.
The council has received ten claims so far this year, though no cash has yet been awarded.
Campaigners have been raising concerns about the poor condition of Edinburgh’s pavements for years.
David Spaven, convener of pedestrian campaign group Living Streets Edinburgh, said the state of some walkways posed a danger to the old and infirm.
He said: “It’s certainly the case that the large majority of Edinburgh’s pavements are not in good condition. Some of them are in a terrible condition.
“The council has got some excellent policies on walking, and has had for quite a number of years, but the problem is that very often the policies are not put into practice on the ground.
“When you walk about, you see so many pavements that are in poor condition, and to get all of them up to scratch is going to cost quite a lot of money. At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of priorities.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Minor work has been carried out to adjust the level of the paving in the vicinity of Bute House following a number of complaints.”