Edinburgh set to crack down on shoddy road repairs

At present less than 50 per cent of sites have an official inspection. Picture: Bill Henry
At present less than 50 per cent of sites have an official inspection. Picture: Bill Henry
Have your say

EDINBURGH is believed to be the first local authority area in Scotland to announce an inspection of every road-work site as part of a crackdown on utility firms which carry out shoddy repairs.

Transport chiefs aim to examine each of the 7,500 projects carried out by water, gas, power and telecom firms to prevent faults going undetected.

Firms will be made to do the work again if they are judged to be inadequate.

At present, only 40 per cent to 50 per cent of work sites in the city are inspected either while work is going on, or once it has been completed.

Edinburgh City Council said it intends to increase this to 100 per cent after taking on more inspection staff this week.

It is believed many local authorities in Scotland typically inspect around 30 per cent of sites. In addition, Edinburgh will greatly increase the number of live inspections – where work is still ongoing – from 20 per cent to 70 per cent in the next year.

This would ensure more faults are detected before contractors leave the site.

Around 80 per cent of the roadworks in the capital are carried out by utility companies with around 15 per cent of these proving to be defective.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said: “Our aim is to inspect 100 per cent of work sites and go back to ensure faults have been rectified. Utilities companies won’t be allowed to get away with defective work and ensuring this will save taxpayers money in the future.”

With a 50 per cent increase in the number of inspectors from this week, the team will carry out the daily visits to work sites.

Tests are typically carried out by drilling through the surface and taking a small sample to ensure layers have been laid properly. Edinburgh City Council said it also backs greater fines for firms which fail to properly reinstate roads and pavements.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on plans to raise the maximum amount from £50,000 to £200,000.

BT was last month fined £50,000 – the maximum penalty – for “serious failures” in carrying out roadworks in the north of Scotland.

Elspeth King, Scottish Road Works Commissioner, said that she had “warned BT about the numerous failures in compliance in Highland and expected an immediate improvement in performance, but this did not occur”, leading to the fine.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Most would be surprised this isn’t being done already, given the disruption such works can cause. Many utilities continue to fail even the sampling tests and we’ve always felt hitting them in the wallet is the only way to ensure quality.

“We would also like to see simple improvements, such as turning temporary traffic lights off at night and ensuring machinery is tidied away when not being used.”