Freezing temperatures see council double budget for emergency pothole repairs to £500k

THE bill for emergency pothole repairs in the Capital is set to double to £500,000 for the first three months of the year as a result of this winter's freezing temperatures, it has emerged.

Council bosses plan to double the quarterly budget for repairs amid worries the recent cold snap will lead to a massive increase in the number of road and pavement defects.

The news came as the Institution of Civil Engineers in Scotland warned that local authorities faced a huge backlog in repairs.

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• What can be done to fix all the extra potholes resulting from the big freeze? Vote here

The massive effort to keep the city's streets gritted means Edinburgh has already spent 1.04 million of its annual 1.4m winter maintenance budget, with an eventual overspend expected.

A separate budget for emergency pothole repairs – those deemed to be an immediate health and safety risk – is now to be doubled due to the cold weather.

Despite spending a record 20m on road repairs in the last year, Edinburgh still faces an 86m backlog of repairs following decades of under-investment.

Warnings nationally about a huge increase in the number of potholes following the repeated freezing and thawing of the UK's roads are likely to be acutely felt in the city, with ten teams of workers now actively assessing the damage caused by the freezing temperatures.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that a total of 5,500 tonnes of salt and 1,000 tonnes of grit were used in Edinburgh between 1 December and 6 January, compared with just 548 tonnes of salt and no grit during the same period last year.

John Thomson, of the Institution of Civil Engineers in Scotland, said: "The impact we've had from the weather is greater than that we would normally expect and lots of local authorities will be looking at their budgets.

"The backlog is already alarming – 1.8bn in Scotland alone. The money allocated by roads authorities for maintenance is going to have to be re-evaluated due to the freezing conditions."

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Edinburgh's environment leader Councillor Robert Aldridge said: "Having experienced the coldest weather snap in 30 years, it is of little surprise to find a sharp increase in the number of potholes in our roads.

"Over the past week, our roads team have been carrying out regular inspections to identify priority areas and, as of today, we have 10 four-man squads dedicated to making emergency, but permanent, repairs to roads across the city.

"I can announce today that, in addition to the record sums already committed by this administration to improving Edinburgh's roads, we will be doubling our emergency repairs budget to the end of March."