Midlothian Council’s £24m roads bill

Friday March 15th 2019

Potholes

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A £24 million backlog in road maintenance work has been reported in Midlothian after the number of potholes doubled last year.

The local authority says that about one-third of its roads network needs work and at one point, after the Beast from the East snow storm took its toll last year, it was spending an extra £15,000 a week on repairing potholes than it normally would.

A report to councillors warns there could be further problems if a national review of roads comes back recommending a national regionalisation of road services as officers expect, with fears Midlothian will lose out.

Transport Scotland has asked for a review to be included in the ongoing National Transport Strategy (NTS), which is not expected to be published for another two or three years.

Officers said that the Edinburgh Lothians Borders and Fife (ELBF) group of councils regularly meet to look at areas of the service which they could share.

They said: “It is likely that the recommendation from the NTS is a national ‘regionalisation’ of road services and therefore some councils within the ELBF are unsure whether to continue with the current arrangements.

“This position may well prove detrimental to Midlothian in terms of sharing of resources in the near future.”

Michelle Ballantyne, South Scotland MSP, said that the Scottish Government needed to step in and take the issue seriously.

She said: “Given that council budgets have fallen, it’s little surprise that there is a £24m backlog of maintenance.

“This is an issue that needs addressed urgently. Widespread issues like potholes don’t just leave councils and motorists out of pocket, they can also be dangerous to cyclists and motorcyclists.

“This is why the Scottish Conservatives have committed to a £100m pothole action fund to help tackle the problem.

“The SNP Government needs to start taking the issue more seriously.”

A council spokesperson said that £24million was the amount needed to “return the network to an acceptable level”.

He said: “The extreme weather we experienced last year during the Beast from the East had a substantial impact on Midlothian’s roads.

“The volume of potholes tackled was 50 per cent higher than normal after the winter period.

“We put in extra resource not just in terms of teams but also money – we were spending an extra £15,000 a week to repair the damage as we are aware how dangerous bad potholes can be.

“We also have a robust safety inspection regime in place and we are able to react quickly to repair dangerous potholes when they’re brought to our attention.”

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