Edinburgh’s roads repair system has been branded “unfit for purpose” in a damning report which proposes a major shake-up of how the Capital’s streets are maintained.

City of Edinburgh Council’s Road Services Improvement Plan reveals a list of flaws in the current system, ranging from a disjointed approach to carrying out repairs to roads and pavements, to a lack of clear accountability.

One particular area of the service is described as “shackled”, with an inability to work proactively which creates frustration for the public, and a “disconnect” between repair services which creates delays and poor outcomes.

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It highlights too how some repairs are wrongly classified leading to wasted time and effort, a fleet of vehicles that is “ageing and ineffective” and current business processes involving contractors which are “cumbersome”.

The report, drawn up by the council’s own officials, recommends a dramatic shift in how the city’s roads repair service operates, with the current multi-layered approach involving four different sectors with their individual responsibilities being ditched in favour of a single, streamlined service.

According to a report to Thursday’s Transport and Environment Committee, the new service would be “responsible for owning the “full journey from inspection, through design to carrying out the repair”.

It also proposes introducing a ‘prime contractor’ system which would create a partnership with a single contactor to carry out major works on the council’s behalf. The move, unlikely to occur before 2019, is designed to reduce up to three months of delays between problems being reported and repairs carried out.

The report concedes there may be an impact on staff, and has confirmed there will have to be consultation with employees and trade unions.

The city’s Transport Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said the plan would “go a long way towards helping improve the standards of roads and footways across the Capital”.

She added: “We need to ensure our Roads Service is properly equipped and structured so that it can successfully perform all its functions, including road repairs and maintenance and winter weather treatment.”

The condition of Edinburgh’s roads and pavements are a regular thorny issue for the capital’s citizens. A report last month revealed the city council had paid nearly £800,000 in compensation over a five year period to just 78 people who claimed they had been injured as a result of poorly maintained pavements.

Last year the council launched a dedicated ‘pothole squad’ aimed at carrying out repairs across the city, while at one point a frustrated cyclist fed up waiting for a pothole to be repaired, filled it with plants.

Neil Greig, head of policy for Scotland at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said the shake up could be good news for road users. “It’s about making things as simple as possible, whether that’s reporting potholes or making targets and spending plans clear so people know when there will be roadworks.

“None of this is rocket science,” he added. “The question is whether anyone on the ground will really notice any great difference.”

Penny Morriss, Project Manager at Living Streets Scotland, said despite the council expressing an interest in improving the streets for pedestrians, action at the moment to improve pavements “can take time to deliver, if they are addressed at all”.

“Without doubt, a concern for many of the local residents has been a lack of communication from officers as to issues reported.

“Any plan that removes barriers to delivering a more efficient, responsive service for local people walking is therefore welcome.”

David Spavin, convener of Living Streets Edinburgh Group, said: “We welcome the council's recognition that the inspection and fixing of street faults is currently not working properly and that plans to improve efficiency and co-ordination are being brought forward.

“It’s not clear how far this new set-up will help to transform conditions for pedestrians – the new Roads Services Improvement Plan mentions ‘roads’ over 50 times, but ‘pavements’ on just five occasions.’

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