10 November 2017
Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and long time road safety campaigner David Stewart has stepped back into the latest row over traffic congestion in Nairn.
He said “In 2015, I was instrumental in trying to persuade the Government and Transport Scotland that the congestion in the town was due in part to their decision to increase the traffic lights at the A96 junctions through the town from four to eight, claiming this was as a result of the expected increased traffic from the then new Sainsbury’s store which was opened in 2011.
“I lodged Parliamentary Questions on the issue, wrote to the then Transport Minister and set up an i-petition to try and address the issue.
"I also lodged a Freedom of Information (FOI) request with Transport Scotland, seeking the junction collision history through Nairn.
“These details were produced and revealed that between 2005 and 2015 there was :
no road traffic collision at the junction of the A96 with Seabank Road, Nairn.
three slight collisions at the A96 junction with Harbour Street (2005,2009 and 2013),
two slight collisions at the junction with the A939,(2007)
and two serious and two slight in the last 10 years at the junction of the A96 and Marine Road Roundabout (2006,2007,2008 and 2011).
“There were no road traffic collisions at the junction with Albert Street and three slight collisions at the A96 junction with Moss- Side Road (2005,2008 and 2011).
“On reflecting on these figures, back in 2015, I said at that time
‘In 10 years, there have been 10 slight road traffic collisions and two serious collisions at the A96 road junctions through Nairn.
'Of course It would be best if there were not any, but I really have to ask if that is a collision history meriting an increase in junction controls from four sets of traffic lights to eight through the town?'"
“ Let's take Albert Street.
"In a 10 year period there has not been one road collision at the junction, yet it was and currently still is controlled by traffic light signals,albeit here they are, some years later, now thinking of removing them!.
“ Despite all my efforts at that time, the Government and Transport Scotland advised that surveys revealed that there was a need for this level of traffic control.
"Transport Scotland advised that they had reconfigured traffic detectors, improved road markings and implemented pedestrian sensors at the A96 junctions through Nairn which were all designed to address the concerns of the majority.
“I was advised that the then Transport Minister had instructed Transport Scotland to establish a local Focus Group involving Councillors, Community Councillors, and other parties to look at the traffic management through Nairn.
“ The Government tried to claim that the road safety statistics on this route through Nairn had improved over the previous three years (2012-2015).
"Strange then that on average there has been one slight road collision at one of these junctions, every year since 2005 and in the years 2012 - 2015 there has continued to be one slight road collision on average each year, so I saw no improvement there.
"What should have be jumping out at the Government and Transport Scotland was that fact that over a 10 years period there was no real history of road collisions at A96 junctions through Nairn, (10 slight and two serious in 10 years) so on that basis, there was no need to increase the number of traffic light controlled junctions from four to eight when the Sainsbury’s store opened in 2011”.
David concluded , “ As is often the case, the Government and Transport Scotland do not accept that they make mistakes with such matters and as a result the commuters and the communities around the Highlands have to suffer.
"This Government body seem to at times have blinkers on.
"Look at the issues with the Kessock Bridge.
"Look at this issues with the Forres community wanting one pedestrian crossing on the A96 along the Forres bypass, to cater for the increased footfall of pedestrians utilising the increased rail service from the new Forres line and Station.
"These pedestrians have to negotiate the A96 without a crossing.
"This is why I come out and ask: why do the Government and Transport Scotland not consult with local communities, listen to their concerns and their views before making some strategic decisions which are at times contrary to what is required for the smooth steady and safe flow of traffic and other road users.
"In the case of Nairn, here they are, some two to three years later trialling what the majority of road users could see was required back then.
"I ask why does it take them so long to act?"