‘Temporary’ tarmac repair work remains one year on

PARTS of the city’s historic High Street are still to be repaired almost a year after they were covered in tarmac.

Unsightly tarmac has been placed on the cobbles at the top of the Royal Mile, much to the anger of traders. Picture: Neil Hanna

Engineers from ScottishPower dug up two patches of Castlehill at the top of the city’s medieval main street in June last year, just weeks after brand new cobbles were laid on the approach to Edinburgh Castle.

Unsightly slabs of tarmac put down as a “temporary” measure were criticised by local businesses, who said the street had been “vandalised” – but almost a year on, nothing has been done to restore the road.

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Now angry traders say the start of the tourist season will be marred by the ugly stop-gap repair, or further roadworks to finally replace the cobbles.

Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, said that ScottishPower should be fined for the delay and told the firm to “pull their finger out”.

She said: “ScottishPower would have been contracted to complete their job, so they should complete it. If they don’t there should be penalties, like any contract.

“This just adds to the city looking tatty.”

In December, transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds, told disgruntled residents on Twitter that she would “get action on this”, and earlier this year both she and staff from the council’s city centre and Leith roads team responded to further queries by saying work would be done by the end of May.

It is understood that a contractor has yet to be appointed, making that impossible, and leaving businesses in limbo.

Carina Contini, owner of Cannonball and The Royal Mile Cafe which face on to the damaged patch of road, said: “We’ve been open for business for a year at the top of the Royal Mile and share the concerns about the state of the road surface.

“As we move into the peak season for visitors, we all want Edinburgh to look its best so would like to see the work completed as soon as possible.”

A spokeswoman for 
ScottishPower said its work had “recently been completed”, adding: “The work consisted of a new substation being built at Cannonball House which required three separate excavations. These works are essential and will allow new opportunities for businesses and strengthen the network in this area for years to come.

“Throughout this whole process we have been working closely with the city council and local businesses and will continue to work closely with the council until specialists contractors have been approved to carry out the full reinstatement of the cobbles.”

The council plans to stop replacing cobbles in a bid to save money, but setts on the Royal Mile will be preserved.

Cllr Hinds said: “It’s disappointing that ScottishPower have still not completed these reinstatements and I would urge them to get this done as soon as possible.”