392 works on the road to nowhere

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THE true scale of the congestion misery in the Capital is today revealed by figures showing that there are almost 400 sets of roadworks currently under way in the city.

The figures and maps from John Gooday, Scotland's first roadworks commissioner, unsurprisingly show that the city centre in particular is blighted by dozens of sets of "high impact" works.

The level of disruption was today described as unprecedented and led to calls for better co-ordination between the city council and utility companies.

Both the council and the commissioner, who was appointed to the newly created position by the then Scottish Executive in March last year, came in for criticism from motoring groups and traders, many of whom have seen their businesses suffer as drivers find it harder to get into the city.

Gordon Burgess, chairman of the Leith Walk Traders' Association, said: "I don't think there's any doubt that this is the worst it has ever been – it's an absolute scandal. The whole city is a mess and there seems to be very little co-ordination going on."

Mr Gooday was charged with improving the planning, co-ordination and quality of roadworks throughout the country.

But the so-called "cone tsar" today came in for criticism from the Institute of Advanced Motorists, which accused him of being "very low profile".

Neil Greig, head of policy in Scotland for the IAM, said: "The only positive note is that we are now getting these maps and this information. If the commissioner is producing these maps, then he's going to have to do something about the roadworks.

"He's been very low-profile. Everybody had high hopes for him, and he will need to show over the next year or so that things are getting better."

When the Evening News checked the Scottish Roadworks Register website yesterday, which provides real-time updates, there were 392 sets of roadworks being carried out in the city.

Most of them are the responsibility of the city council or utility companies, including Scottish Gas, ScottishPower and BT.

A council spokeswoman said:

"At any one time, there are approximately 100 sets of works going on in the city. The higher figure represents many completed jobs and those yet to begin."

A spokesman for Mr Gooday said he was taking a "strategic view" of roadworks and continuing to work alongside local authorities as part of the Roads Authorities and Utilities Committee Scotland (RAUCS).