So how many workmen does it take to fix a pothole?

So how many council workmen DOES it take to fix a pothole? Eight actually (working two and half days and at a cost of £3,500)

  • Frustrated resident forces council to reveal true cost to taxpayer 

IT sounds like a question more akin to a joke you might find in a Christmas cracker: How many council workers does it take to fill a pothole?

However, the answer in one particular case in Edinburgh has sparked outrage – and is certainly no laughing matter.

We can reveal it took eight staff the equivalent of two-and-a-half days – at a cost to taxpayers of around £3,500 – to plug one defect in the city’s roads this year.

Edinburgh city council’s roads department also deployed a fleet of six vehicles, comprising 18 and 7.5 ton lorries, a Ford Ranger, Ford Transit, a further ‘goods vehicle’, and a JCB ‘Pothole Pro’ machine to the job in the city’s Old Dalkeith Road.

Consumer expert Scott Dixon, who uncovered the figures, described them as ‘scandalous’ and said they left him ‘gobsmacked’.

Five of the workers are pictured ‘on the job’

He said: ‘If this is what it takes to fill one defect, it’s no surprise council tax bills are so high.’

Local resident Mr Dixon, who specialises in resolving motoring and roads-related complaints, said: ‘In addition to the amount of workers involved, what stood out for me was the fact that they needed so many vehicles.

‘The purpose of hiring and deploying a Pothole Pro machine is to cut costs and save money.

‘This does not appear to be the case here, with taxpayers in my opinion being ripped off on what is a relatively small repair.

‘It is a scandal for Edinburgh city council to give eight operatives over 60 hours to fix a defect like this and represents poor value for money.

‘It is my belief these practices are never properly highlighted. The amount of resources and time spent on this one job left me gobsmacked.’

The council said that, following a ‘site meeting’ a decision was made to carry out the work on a Sunday in May this year to ‘minimise disruption’.

The rutted patch of tarmac on Old Dalkeith Road

The small-scale repair that took eight workers 60 hours

It revealed ‘labour costs’ were £2175 with ‘eight operatives’ carrying out the repair which took 60.5 ‘total working hours’.

Other costs included for vehicles and materials. Plant costs, including a floor saw, plate compactor, roller, trailer, and a ‘Welfare Van’ added £274.

The council hiked Council Tax bills for this year by 5% with Band H, the highest, paying more than £4500 per year, or £380 per month, with even a Band D bill reaching just under £2000 per year.

Further increases are anticipated next year.

Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP Sue Webber said: ‘Edinburgh residents will be raising their eyebrows at the costs involved in repairing this single pothole.

‘While it is always welcome to see the capital’s roads repaired, the council should always be focused on ensuring they deliver value for money for taxpayers.’

However Edinburgh council argued that the cost of the repair was justified as it covered not just a single pothole but an area of 22sq m of damaged road.

Potholes are increasingly becoming a scourge to city motorists

Councillor Scott Arthur, Edinburgh city council’s transport and environment convener, said: ‘This repair covered 22sq m, or 237sq ft, rather than a single pothole and using the Pothole Pro allowed the team a higher level of quality control, ensuring a reliable improvement.

‘Given the traffic sensitivity of this key route to Edinburgh’s biggest hospital and its impact on the bus network, this work had to be carried out on either a night shift or Sunday.

‘The cost of was in line with the average cost of such schemes. 

Council tax levels reflect Edinburgh’s position as Scotland’s worst-funded local authority, but do remain lower than cities like Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Stirling.’


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