Council to slash money for repairing crumbling roads

CASH for emergency road repairs is set to be slashed by a third – sparking fresh fears over crumbling surfaces and damage being done to cars.

Emergency road repairs are set to be affected by the cuts. Picture: Bill Henry

City bosses have unveiled 2016-17 budget plans which would see one of Edinburgh’s three road repairs response squads axed and £185,000 cut from the £586,000 emergency fund.

They said too many jobs were being classed as emergency, adding that Edinburgh’s figures were far higher than elsewhere in Scotland.

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Increased investment in “right first time” improvements would reduce the need for such repairs, they added.

But taxi industry representatives and opposition figures have slammed the proposals as “daft” and said vehicles were at risk of serious damage on Edinburgh’s pot-holed and cracked roads.

Tony Kenmuir, a director of Central Taxis, said: “I’m not sure which repairs are considered emergency and which aren’t – I do know there are a lot of urgent repairs that need to be carried out around the city.

“The average taxi will do 60,000 miles a year, which means it’s doing three services a year. And it’s very rare to go in for a service and find that you don’t need suspension repairs.

“We can see there are pot holes and craters all over the city and losing the budget for repairing them quickly will be bad news for everybody.”

The proposals, which are subject to public consultation, come after the Evening News obtained a secret report last year which revealed £260 million would be needed to bring damaged surfaces up to scratch.

New figures also show more than 35,000 emergency and urgent repairs were carried out across Edinburgh in 2014-15.

Councillor Nick Cook, transport spokesman for the city’s Conservatives, said: “This administration budget proposal lays bare their unwillingness to take sensible decisions on strategic spending.

“We have been given a raft of daft suggestions like this one on emergency road repairs. Given the poor state of our roads, I have no doubt that local taxpayers will take a dim view of this proposal.”

He added: “Increasingly, this administration talks the talk but does not walk the walk – there’s little evidence that residents are seeing the benefits of [publicised road repair programmes].”

A city council spokeswoman said: “This proposal, if adopted, would improve the efficiency of how we classify and tackle roads repairs. All repairs will be carried out as before but using a revised priority system.

“Of course, this is still only a proposal and we would encourage residents to take part in our budget consultation.”

A hole lot of trouble in the Capital

EDINBURGH’S crumbling roads have never been far from the headlines in recent years.

Last year it emerged the bill to repair all the cracked and potholed roads across the Capital would top £260 million.

Figures seen by the Evening News revealed that more than 30 times the current £7m budget for carriageways and ­pavements was needed to bring surfaces up to scratch. We have also revealed how more than half of road repairs fail less than seven years after they are carried out – even though the Capital pays more than twice as much as other Scottish cities for the work.

City transport convener Lesley Hinds has previously demanded more cash from government for vital repairs but has insisted steady progress is being made in tackling Edinburgh’s repairs backlog.

The Scottish Government has responded by insisting the Capital already gets its “fair share” of cash for roads.