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WATCH: Campaigners in Black Isle village of Rosemarkie have waged 20-year battle to secure 20mph speed limit as fears of death or serious injury grow

By Hector MacKenzie

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David Guthrie and Anne Phillips of the local community council on Bridge Street where there is no pavement along the road connecting the popular Fairy Glen walk with the High Street. Picture: James Mackenzie.
David Guthrie and Anne Phillips of the local community council on Bridge Street where there is no pavement along the road connecting the popular Fairy Glen walk with the High Street. Picture: James Mackenzie.

FEARS that it will take the death of a schoolchild or elderly person for Highland Council to act on a Ross-shire community's heartfelt plea for a 20mph speed limit have been voiced.

And now, after 20 years of frustration, Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council has commissioned a film it hopes will persuade the local authority to impose a 20 miles per hour speed limit in Rosemarkie – in line with measures witnessed in every other Black Isle village.

The film highlights the need for a speed restriction, the overwhelming local support and "the repeated failure of the council to act".

Community councillor David Guthrie said requests for a 20 miles per hour speed limit in the village date back to 2002.

He said: "In that time the population has grown – even now a new housing estate is under construction – and as everyone knows, the number of tourists visiting the area, many driving large camper vans, has increased significantly. The beach, especially in the summer, is a huge attraction.

"Other villages on the Black Isle have a 20 mph zone but despite the narrow pavements and tricky junctions, Highland Council has repeatedly refused action in Rosemarkie, citing cost. But just how costly are a few road signs and what are the other associated costs?

"It has appeared that Highland Council is clearly only going to act when someone, perhaps a child getting off a school bus or an elderly person crossing the road, is injured or killed.

"For a private company, failing to take action when an identified health and safety hazard leads to an accident, would result in fines or even a prison sentence for those responsible. This video makes it clear the Highland Council has been warned and Rosemarkie wants action now."

A link to the video has been sent to Kate Forbes MSP, who has taken a keen interest in road safety matters on the Black Isle, and to Ian Blackford MP, as well as to local councillors.

Local MSP Kate Forbes acknowledged the concerns from local residents and businesses and said: "The speed limit on Rosemarkie High Street is something I have previously raised with Highland Council.

“Given the physical restrictions of both the amount of parked cars and also the road layout, I have been surprised that this is something the council has not been more amenable to. It’s been well-documented that both the amount of residents and visitors to this part of the Black Isle has been growing, which brings with it increased traffic volumes.

“With a number of popular attractions nearby, such as the beach, Chanonry Point, Fairy Glen and the golf club, it looks like this trend will only continue.

“Against that backdrop I hope that the community council’s proposal can be considered in more detail.”

Black Isle councillor Gordon Adam acknowledged the frustration which he said he and Highland Council officers share. Hesaid however that a 20mph speed limit may not result in better road safety, instancing Henrietta Street in nearby Avoch "where the locals believe there is still a speeding problem despite well marked 20mph signs on the road and on lamp-posts".

He added: "And from my experience of Rosemarkie High Street, the average speed is probably closer to 10mph because the road is so narrow.That is not to say there isn’t a road safety issue – there very possibly is – but resolving it can be difficult. What is required is speed and other surveys both in Rosemarkie and Avoch and these take time and effort."

He said the Road Safety Team on the council consists of two people who currently have 70 projects in the pipeline, including some on the Black Isle. He said: "Like the rest of the council, the team is badly underfunded and unfortunately it is likely to remain so because of significant financial pressures from lack of central government funding post-Covid and post-Brexit.

"The police have also had their funds cut and can’t provide the level of monitoring that is needed to enforce speed limits.The situation is not helped by road safety being such a long-winded bureaucratic process: I successfully proposed a motion last year mandating the Highland Council to lobby the Scottish Government to simplify the process.

"The Highland Council is an easy target for criticism, but in reality there are many others involved in resolving road safety issues, including central government and the police."

The video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUCbo0KpRAg

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