Controversial speeding plan gets green light

A SINGLE objection to proposed traffic calming measures in Minnigaff was not enough to halt the plans this week, despite claims of a more widespread concern about them.

A Safer Routes to School scheme will see the whole of the New Minnigaff housing estate surrounding the primary school, and taking in McGregor Drive, Kirroughtree Avenue, Bruce Place, Murray Place, Racegreen Avenue, Heron Way, Wallace Place and Dunkitterick Drive, fitted with a combination of speed humps, flatbed humps, signage and a 20mph limit.

But one objection received by the council meant the issue had to be brought to Wigtown Area Committee for discussion before being implemented, and the committee was told by the council’s network strategy service manager, John Howell, on Wednesday that Minnigaff Primary was one of the region’s largest schools yet to be given a Safer Routes to School scheme.

The complaint, from John Murphy, of McGregor Drive, issued at the end of December in the form of a letter, said he had lived in the area for 20 years and had never seen “any dangerous misbehaviour which would require such a draconian response from our council”.

He added: “Accepting the presence of Minnigaff Primary School, and the need for the safety of children, if this is the cause of concern, there are surely more modern, effective, sensible, less disruptive for local motorists, and much less expensive alternatives of traffic management in the immediate vicinity of schools in similar situations.”

He also raised the issue of ambulance patients and bus passengers suffering discomfort when going over the bumps.

Councillor Alistair Geddes said that, in fact, more than just Mr Murphy had reservations about the scheme, but Mr Howell said a full consultation had been carried out and there had been only one objection received.

Councillor Geddes said: “There is more concern about this than may first appear, and I know of some people who had hoped to be present at this meeting but are unable to be.”

The streets will be fitted with 10cm-high flat-top humps, which will also act as crossing places for pedestrians, 7.5cm-high round-top humps and 7.5cm-high speed cushions, to be placed roughly 60m-70m apart. The main estate entrances opposite Creebridge Caravan Park and just before the town limit signs will be fitted with flat-top humps.

Councillor Sandra McDowall said she had also received calls from residents worried about the plans, but said they understood a balance was required between child safety and a mitigation of nuisance to drivers.

She added: “There’s never going to be a meeting of minds between parents who want their children to get to school safely, and those who want low disruption.”

Mr Howell said a thorough consultation had taken place and the scheme had received the “unanimous backing of the community council”.

He added: “We have only had one representation and I’m confident that reflects the consultation process. There will be mumps and groans about having to drive over humps: none of us likes doing that.

“But speaking to paramedics on this issue in the past, they’ve been largely supportive of the schemes as they recognise they reduce casualties and buses can actually often straddle the humps with minimum disruption.”

He added: “If people are driving slowly they don’t need to alter their speed to get over the humps. If they need to slow down, then they’re probably driving too fast to start with.”

He also said the humps wouldn’t be placed in front of anyone’s driveways.

n Meanwhile, Safer Routes to School plans were passed last week for streets around Wigtown Primary School which will now see parts of New Road, Lochancroft Lane, Low Vennel and High vennel fitted with traffic calming measures.