Radical traffic study urgently required for Aberdeenshire communities

Recent surveys on Newburgh's Main Street revealed that traffic speeds remain well below the current policy intervention level of 35mph
Recent surveys on Newburgh's Main Street revealed that traffic speeds remain well below the current policy intervention level of 35mph

Councillors have called for a radical scrutiny report into traffic management and calming policies for North-east communities.

The approach by Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine Area Committee could potentially pave the way for the introduction of 20mph speed limits and other traffic safety measures across the region.

It came after councillors debated for over an hour before deferring new traffic management proposals for Newburgh.

They had been asked to formalise the creation of new parking spaces, waiting restrictions and the installation of a footway build-out on the village’s Main Street.

But during debate, councillors felt the community’s views had not been addressed following consultations.

Back in February the committee was petitioned by the Residents and Friends of Newburgh for a 20mph speed limit on Main Street in a bid to improve safety.

However, an assessment by the council concluded that promotion of a 20mph limit would have fallen outwith current policy.

Recent surveys also revealed that traffic speeds remain well below the current policy intervention level of 35mph.

It did, however, prompt officers to suggest formalising parking spaces to act as a traffic management measure along with the introduction of ‘At Any Time’ no waiting restrictions to improve visibility and avoid long stretches of parked cars.

The footway build-out reducing the road width to 6m would act as an uncontrolled pedestrian crossing point on Main Street outside the village hall and improve visibility for pedestrians at the crossing point.

A recent community consultation found that residents were largely supportive, with people generally understanding what the council is trying to achieve. However, there were some negative comments regarding the area outside the shop with a lack of available parking being a concern.

Foveran Community Council strongly objects to the waiting restriction proposals on Main Street and remains of the view that a 20mph speed limit should be promoted.

Community councillor Ron McDonald said the council remained concerned that the traffic management did not extend to the wider areas of Newburgh which would experience a knock-on effect by the restricted parking arrangements being presented.

He told the meeting: “I find it surprising that a range of options considered by yourselves (in February 2018) have not been presented and the costs and benefits of these have not been presented in terms of road safety and other council policies such as encouraging cycling and walking to school have not been presented. There is only one option presented – you can have any colour car you want as long as it’s black.”

Calling for the policy review, which will also include Active Travel, Councillor Anne Stirling said: “We’re here to represent our communities and I think we need to go through the scrutiny process because cars are faster now, they’re built to be faster and everybody’s in a hurry.

“We have to seriously consider how we can make a change for the benefit of all our communities to make their lives better.”