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Highland Council under increasing pressure over controversial traffic islands in Dingwall, Ross-shire

By Scott Maclennan

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One of the contentious traffic islands, right opposite the police station, Dingwall.
One of the contentious traffic islands, right opposite the police station, Dingwall.

PRESSURE is mounting on Highland Council to remove controversial new traffic islands from Dingwall that it claims were put in place to aid active travel.

Local MSP Kate Forbes has said she shares the concerns of locals about their placement, which critics say could hinder the emergency services on call outs.

One in particular, near Dingwall police station, is already reported to be causing tailbacks across the exit to Caberfeidh Avenue which is the primary route used by the fire service.

The council said the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) are a consultee but made no “adverse comment” about the traffic calming measures.

However, the SFRS group commander for service delivery for Highland North Alex McKinley revealed that the consultation had not concluded.

He said: “We are currently in discussion with our Highland Council partners in relation to the traffic calming measure recently installed on the A834 road, and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

Dingwall is also the base for the busiest ambulance station in the north which regularly uses the A834 to reach destinations south of the town or the quicker route of the A835 to the west.

According to a Scottish Ambulance Service spokeswoman they have not finalised its submission yet either, she said: “We are in consultation with Highland Council and will keep the temporary traffic measures in place under review.”

Ms Forbes says the money from the Scottish Government’s Space for People fund used by the council could have been put to better use, she said: “Active travel has many health and wellbeing benefits, and can also reduce pollution and traffic volume.

“It’s against that backdrop that the Scottish Government created a fund to help encourage people to do so where possible, and Highland Council received over £750,000 for that purpose.

“Whilst some of this money appears to have been well-used in other places like Aviemore, it’s very difficult to say the same for Dingwall and I share the concerns of local Councillor Graham MacKenzie.

“Given the strength of local feeling, it may be better to go back to the drawing board and consult with regular road users, the emergency services and residents rather than plonking traffic islands down in the wrong place in a hurry.”

Cllr Mackenzie has taken issue with the placement of the both traffic islands – the second near Robert’s Bridge is on a blind corner – but his efforts have been stalled after two fellow ward councillors backed the islands.

Highland Council said: “We can confirm that SFRS were a consultee to the permanent order and made no adverse comment.

“It is fair to say that locally concerns have been raised that the traffic calming measures are perceived to have a detrimental impact but this has yet to be observed and we are monitoring the situation.

“The measures are designed to encourage compliance with the 20mph limit, and clearly the crew have to abide by such a speed limit when travelling to the station, of course on exiting the station they will have on blues and twos and as such it is not envisaged that the measures will have a material impact.

“We remain in dialogue with SFRS and are monitoring the situation.”

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