Edinburgh Needs to Stop Covering Its Tracks and Fix Its Roads

by Andrea Willoughby

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Mound, Edinburgh.

 In the past financial year, councils in the UK have paid out a grand total of £2.5m in compensation to motorists because of pothole damage.

At Eagle Couriers, we spend £24,000 a year repairing damage to our vehicles caused directly by poor road surfaces in Edinburgh.


Broken down, that’s £300 a year per van to replace tyres, springs and shock absorbers – All down to poor maintenance on our Edinburgh roads.

Notably deteriorating areas include West Port, Western Approach Road and Charlotte Square in central Edinburgh. With many areas littered with pot holes and loose, rutted surfaces, road maintenance across the city is severely neglected and under-funded.

Less than 10% of the annual road tax bill in the whole of the UK is spent on road repairs. With investment obviously going elsewhere, we’re heading for a crash.

Repairs that are actually carried out are often substandard, short-term fixes that don’t go the distance. Often, Potholes are being filled poorly. All that seems to be done is a bag of tarmac with some resin is poured into the hole, some so-called levelling tool skims over it and there we have it. We’re left with something resembling a patchwork quilt the height of a Munro.

Heading in to winter, facing heavy rain, snow storms and icy conditions, we’ll be back to square one.

Residents in our capital city annually contribute £210m pounds in council tax to improve their localities; yet, our roads remain in dire need of repair. Roads not resurfaced to a sufficiently high standard create costly damage to vehicles whilst also compromising our safety every time we travel.

We’re on track with a cosmopolitan new tram system, but why are the most basic improvements on our most common travel mechanism being overlooked?

In Edinburgh, we’ve inadvertently spent £1bn on the trams project – More than the cost of developing the space rocket used in the moon landing. Yet, pedestrians and motorists can’t travel down Great Junction Street for example without falling foul of an unsightly pothole.

32,600 compensation claims were made across the UK last year for pot-hole related damage. Up 79% on the previous year, clearly, a gap needs to be filled.

Road rejuvenation seems to be going in reverse, hindering rather than helping road users. Coming in to a cold winter, with increasingly difficult driving conditions added to poor quality of roads, it seems as though up to us to drive with caution, stay alert and report faults where possible to bridge the gaps and put onus on our local councils to invest in vital road improvements.


Jerry Stewart is one of three directors at Eagle Couriers in Scotland. More information about the company can be located on its website.

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