8000 pothole repairs and a spring clean for streets among surprise council projects

An extra 8000 pothole repairs, a “spring clean” of the Capital’s dirtiest streets, measures to counter the impact of the latest tram works, new bus shelters and a series of road safety initiatives are among £2 million of surprise council spending plans unveiled today.

City leaders have come up with a dozen new initiatives that will be put into place within the next two months.

They say the measures are being introduced after “good financial management” left them with extra money in their budgets as they approach the end of the 2011/12 financial year – and not as a pre-election ploy. There has not yet been opposition reaction to the move.

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The proposals are intended to cover the areas that the public indicated were their biggest priorities during consultation on the city’s budget programme and the projects have been chosen in the last fortnight by the conveners of each of the council’s main committees.

City leader Jenny Dawe said: “When we found out we were in the fortunate position of having more cover we thought it would be good to check with departments to see what could be usefully used this [financial] year.

“Most of them will be visible to the public but some more than others, such as pothole repairs and cleansing of the city and parks. Every one of these items is something that people themselves have put a high priority on.”

The 8000 pothole and pavement repairs, costing £500,000, will use the new more permanent “Right First Time” methods that are designed to make repairs last longer. A £650,000 “Edinburgh Spring Clean” initiative will see specialist equipment being used to clean up streets and rid areas of blights such as graffiti and discarded chewing gum.

A batch of road safety measures costing £250,000 include 80 new parking spaces for cyclists, 25 new bus shelters and ten new mobile speed warning signs, as well as talking signs for blind passengers at Edinburgh Bus Station. Council staff will also hand out 1000 free “fresnel” lenses to lorry drivers, which help cut down on blind spots.

The Open For Business campaign that attempts to counter the impact of tram work will get an extra £100,000, to be spent alongside £20,000 that remains in its 2011/12 budget and will focus on the West End and Shandwick Place.

Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the city’s transport leader, said: “It is a difficult time for businesses because it’s post-Christmas, the works have gone in and we are seeing a significant impact on footfall, so we want to do what we can to support businesses.”

Children will benefit from £230,000 of spending designed to improve access to sport, music and the arts, while every secondary school will hold a one-day event on internet safety.

Cllr Dawe insisted that the measures had not been introduced as an election ploy. She said: “Had it been last year that we saw what the financial situation was we would have done the same thing.”

Cllr Phil Wheeler, the city’s finance leader, said: “It is the benefit of five years of prudent management of the city’s resources. We want to make the city greener, cleaner and safer and these measures will help.”

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