Balerno residents suffer as city ignores road like ‘war zone’ for 2 weeks

It took Japanese engineers just six days to repair a highway torn to shreds by the 2011 tsunami, but Edinburgh City Council has taken two weeks to do nothing about a devastated road in Balerno, a local councillor has complained.

It took Japanese engineers just six days to repair a highway torn to shreds by the 2011 tsunami, but Edinburgh City Council has taken two weeks to do nothing about a devastated road in Balerno, a local councillor has complained.

Cockburnhill Road looks like a “war zone” after flooding in June destroyed its surface, said Conservative councillor Graeme Bruce of the Pentland Hills Ward.

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Local residents and business owners say the road, which has been closed for two weeks, is disrupting lives and sabotaging business.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Angus Buchanan-Smith, Director of local seasonal restaurant The Free Company.

The restaurant runs a shuttle bus to and from the bus stop in Balerno, a journey which usually takes three to five minutes via Cockburnhill Road.

However, with the road closed the bus has to take a 20 to 25 minute detour, meaning the restaurant can serve much fewer diners in one evening, as it cannot afford to hire another bus and driver.

If the road doesn’t open again before The Free Company’s summer season begins in two weeks it could lose up to 40 per cent of its customers, Buchanan-Smith thinks.

He has written several letters to the council about the road, which was already run-down before floods broke up the surface in June, but has received no response.

“The council don’t consider it a priority,” he said. “It’s a rural area, with only four farms and half a dozen cottages. But it’s really concerning for us.”

Cllr Bruce also complained the council was not treating the issue as a priority.

“Just because it’s not a major thoroughfare doesn’t mean it’s not important for local people who, in case anyone in the City Chambers needs reminding, pay their council taxes and are entitled to the same level of service as everyone else in the Capital,” he said.

Cllr Bruce also blamed lack of funding for the council’s slow response.

“Council officers are doing their best with diminishing resources, but the real problem is the deepening under-funding of local authorities by a centralising SNP government with the blessing of the Green Party,” he said.

“While the SNP blames Westminster for a reduction in its block grant of less than two per cent it slashes nearly eight per cent from the council’s budget while happily waving through three per cent increases in Council Tax and planning new raids on our pockets through the Garden Tax and the Workplace Parking levy.

“Meanwhile Balerno people face long detours to get home and increased petrol costs and local businesses could lose custom. This administration may think Balerno is the ‘End of the Line’ and indeed in this part of the world it will be for those parties who ignore their needs.”

A spokesperson from Edinburgh City Council said: “We are working towards implementing a permanent solution for this road as soon as possible.”