Shore residents fear for homes after £551,000 repairs fail

Sinking Shore road surface

Residents along The Shore have been in touch with Greener Leith to share their concerns over the rapidly deteriorating road surface at the Shore.

They claim that parts of the road surface near Martin Wisharts restaurant started to sink almost straight after contractors Premier One finished the £551,000 improvement works on the street in May 2012. And although some patching has been done to the road since, the affected locals say that every time a bus passes over the sunken parts of the road, their building shakes, in a way which it didn’t before the works were undertaken.

And there are a lot of buses that use The Shore.

In a June letter sent to council officers on behalf of the block, a resident said that they’d been: “…subjected to increasingly violent tremors and vibrations through our block, caused by vehicles hitting large concave dips in the surface of the road outside on the Shore.

He went on to explain: “This started after the completion of the Shore Improvement works, and has been getting progressively worse ever since. It’s getting so bad now that my flat ‘jumps’ each time, with furniture rattling and the doors banging in their frames. I dread to think what structural damage this is causing, as it happens round the clock, 7 days a week. My neighbours are experiencing similar symptoms and are likewise deeply concerned about potential damage to the building and their properties.”

In their first written response, council officers acknowledge that the buses on the street “will cause more [stresses] than what can be considered average loading,” but carefully avoid acknowledging any link between the decaying roadway and the claimed potential for damage to the private buildings on The Shore.

It said: “The area around Shore has recently seen considerable investment in terms of footway and carriageway improvements. In addition to this the council has introduced restrictions on traffic to only allow buses and cycles to travel in a northbound direction. As part of these works considerable repairs were carried out on the setted carriageway which has gone some way to improve the road surface. I am however aware that further repairs will be required in the near future as areas adjacent to those which have been renewed are now showing signs of fatigue.”

“As this road is a heavily used bus route it is inevitable that the stresses put on the setted carriageway will cause more than what can be considered average loading.”

The official then adds: “However I must advise that there is no requirement in the Road Scotland Act, the Noise Insulation Act or the Environmental Protection Act to encumber the council to investigate or resolve vibration issues so that if vibration is detected there are no set criteria to measure it against. As a result the council does not have guidelines for acceptable levels of vibrations.”

And although some “patching” of the road has been undertaken in response to complaints, officers have acknowledged in further correspondence that more repairs are needed following an Autumn inspection. A further letter, sent in the Autumn to residents said: “The area was inspected yesterday and we have identified further areas that require repair outside Martin Wishart’s and at the junction of Burgess Street. These repairs will be carried out as soon as resources allow.”

But this open ended commitment has been scant comfort to those affected. Our correspondent concludes: “If we have to wait ’til the Council ‘has funds’ to carry out a repair, I fear there may have been irreversible damage caused to the fabric of our building.” Another neighbour told Greener Leith frustratedly: “The council say it’s not their responsibility but they have caused the damage!”

Whilst many would no doubt sympathise with those people involved, the whole saga also begs a number of wider questions about the quality of the work undertaken, and the specification used by the council in the tender process. Surely a newly laid road shouldn’t deteriorate this rapidly within 18 months of work being completed? Or could it be simply that this historic street cannot cope with the volume of buses that Lothian Buses wish to send that way? Nobody knows at the moment, but feelers have been put out.

Written by Ally Tibbitt

Ally Tibbitt is a member of Greener Leith. He looks after this website.