Taxpayer’s £22,000 bill for Papal visit road improvements


By Martin Graham

A STRETCH of road outside the home of Scotland’s top Catholic has been given a £22,000 makeover in time for the Pope’s visit to Scotland – with taxpayers set to foot the bill.

The 80-metre length of road outside the Edinburgh residence of Cardinal Keith O’Brien has been re-laid with tarmac and the lamp posts have been painted in readiness for the Pope Benedict’s visit to the capital on 16 September.

Council officials denied that the work carried out in Greenhill Gardens in the Morningside area of the city was related to the Pope’s visit.

But locals are suspicious.

Graeme Kirkpatrick, 38, who lives in the area and works in IT, said: “I hope the Catholic Church are getting the bill.

“They’re also painting the lampposts which I found very strange as there was nothing wrong with the old ones.

“This gets up my nose because there was absolutely nothing wrong with the road, and this is coupled with the fact that they are not doing the whole street.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien is the leader of the Archdiocese of Edinburgh and St Andrews.

The Cardinal’s residence, known as St. Bennet’s house, is the setting for a lunch for Pope Benedict XVI after he had toured the city in the pope mobile.

The pontiff will enjoy some relaxation time at St Bennet’s house before moving on to celebrate mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, site of the last open air mass by Pope John Paul II when he visited Scotland in 1982.

Conservative Councillor Mark McInnes, who represents the Morningside area said: “The city needs to look its best for the Pope’s visit but residents deserve the same treatment all year round.

“It should be a matter of course and not just when there’s a VIP visitor.”

St Bennet’s House and the grounds are currently being spruced up, but the costs are being met by the church.

The council’s environmental leader, Councillor Robert Aldridge said: “We are continuing to spend record sums on clearing the backlog of road repairs across the city.

“Having assessed Greenhill Gardens in March, it fell into the category of streets most in need of repair and was therefore included in the works.”

A spokesman for the council said: “Our main focus is on management of the Pope’s visit and the logistics of that.

 “The work at Greenhill Gardens was not related to the arrival of the Pope.

 “We are working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Cabinet Office, Lothian and Borders Police and their Met colleagues to ensure the visit goes smoothly.”


  1. Don’t worry Graeme Kirkpatrick (who lives in the area BTW), we all have to pay taxes for things we don’t neccessarily approve of. I could list dozens of socially acceptable things that my hard earned crumbs fund. At least some good is coming of the spending in our area.

    • hey you ! are you the same stephen who went to USA in 84 ?

      anyway , couldn’t agree more with your attitude !
      best see the positive side …

  2. Joseph Ratzinger joined the Hitler Youth in 1941 when, according to him and his supporters, it became compulsory for all German boys. Millions of Germans were in a position similar to that of Joseph Ratzinger and his family, so why spend so much time focusing on him? Because he is no longer merely Joseph Ratzinger, or even a Catholic Cardinal — he is now Pope Benedict XVI. None of the other Germans who joined the Hitler Youth, were part of the military in Nazi Germany, lived near a concentration camp, and watched Jews being rounded up for death camps has ever become pope.

  3. What an utter abomination that this amount of money is spent on such a visit. Was the son of God himself now someone who enjoy a meagre living and spent time with the poor and needy – not costing the state (the people) tens of millions and needing to have lampposts looking their best etc, How utterly appalling, and this is a religion that needs this? Think we need Robin Hood involved somehow. Would the money be better spent in Pakistan just now – people are starving, suffering and in need there – is that not the idea of religion?? I’m disgusted at this opulence – I can’t believe the public are accepting this extravagance.

  4. I am absolutely disgusted at the cost to us beleagured taxpayers as a result of this overhyped papal visit! The disruption to all of our dailly lives and cost to local businessesses including my own, is a travesty! Perrhaps we should all get together and claim loss of earnings against the catholic church, assuming of course they have enough left after bailing out their physical abusers and paedophiles. I was sent , much against my will, to one of their schools where although i was never sexualy abused i was along with several classmates phisically abused almost on a daillly basis untill one day i grabbed the tawse from the teacher and threatned him with it, thankfully i was expelled soon after. Therefore not surprisingly i lack enthusiam for the papal visit. So lets all us disgruntled ones hope the ash cloud returns and he stays in rome allowing us to lead anormal life!

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