Cash poured into winter potholes soars fivefold

WIDESPREAD pothole damage caused by this month's big freeze has prompted Scotland's two largest cities to massively increase spending on repairs.

Edinburgh will spend five times as much as normal between January and March, while Glasgow yesterday trebled its road maintenance budget from April.

The moves delighted motoring groups, which urged others to follow suit.

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The Scotsman revealed this month that the worst winter weather for decades could leave the nation's roads with up to a third more potholes after water in cracks froze and expanded, damaging the surface. Edinburgh City Council plans to spend nearly 1 million on the problem until March, while Glasgow is allocating 12m for the next financial year.

Edinburgh would normally expect to spend 200,000 on road maintenance in the first three months of the year, but this had already been increased to 500,000, with a further rise to 960,000 following checks on roads.

Robert Aldridge, the councillor responsible for roads, said: "Having experienced the coldest weather in 30 years, it is of little surprise to find a sharp increase in the number of potholes.

"We have up to ten squads dedicated to making emergency, but permanent, repairs to roads across the city.

In Glasgow, councillors agreed yesterday to "bankroll a blitz on potholes" despite freezing the council tax for the fifth year in a row.

The council's roads maintenance budget will increase from 4m to 12m – enough to permanently repair an extra 10,000 potholes.

City treasurer Gordon Matheson said: "A key concern that our constituents have recently been drawing to our attention is the condition of our roads.

"There is no doubt that they have taken a battering during the recent extreme cold spell.

"This is a major investment which will be warmly welcomed by drivers, cyclists, bus passengers and pedestrians alike."

Automobile Association president Edmund King said: "These local authorities should be applauded for increasing their winter maintenance expenditure.

"The reality is we are dependent on the road network and cannot allow it to degenerate, which in the long term would cost more to repair if not addressed now."

Philip Gomm, of the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, said: "It seems as if Glasgow and Edinburgh councils have seen the writing on the wall, recognising if they don't act now there will only be a much bigger bill to pay in the future.

"Now the gauntlet has been thrown down to other authorities who are hesitating on committing more money to the maintenance budget."

Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: "We welcome the extra funds but they must be sustained. Temporary repairs completed now will almost certainly require further work."