Tag Archives: roads

Open For Business?

letters to editor

I can’t help feeling that Michael Russel MSP’s comments on the A83 Rest and Be Thankful (R&BT) stretch sound rather worrying.

It is all very well to deflect saying that “the key message must be that Argyll is open for business” and that “anyone who gives a different impression will do damage to the area” but does he really imagine that the almost weekly media reports we have heard and read throughout this winter concerning the closure or partial blocking of that road are somehow damaging to Argyll or in any way hushable? Hokum, it only damages those who govern while the road fails to deliver. Business people in Argyll and serving Argyll are not daft and will not believe the A83 is “open for business” when their vehicles physically cannot get through, especially when we have all recently witnessed the alternative route closed simultaneously thanks to flooding.

But this does not close Argyll, it is just an irritating nuisance caused by lack of proper management and investment. The reality is that a protective tunnel in the Alpine style, designed to shed all subsequent landslides and protect traffic should have been funded from the start. The only reason this did not happen, according to Keith Murray the Area Manager for Transport Scotland who wrote to me recently, was that “The (tunnel) option was, however, rejected for further consideration, since similar benefits can be achieved with other options in the study at lower cost and with a lower potential environmental impact.” He also went on to use the seemingly mandatory “Argyll remains open for business” mantra so perhaps he has been advised by the incumbent political propaganda department.

There are several important points that need picked up from these statements. The unfit for purpose situation we are forced to tolerate at the R&BT is the result of cheap scrimping by governing politicians, much the same as the Forth Road Bridge maintenances that were reportedly timeously missed, except that the Argyll – Glasgow connection clearly matters less in our governers minds than the Fife – Edinburgh connection. You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, nor can you protect the A83 traffic with a mesh net and the injured people in the two vehicles caught in the most recent landslide are thankfully living proof of that fact. ‘Similar benefits’ to those that would be afforded by the construction of a permanent tunnel cannot in fact be achieved by the more affordable methods currently adopted. Fact. Also, nobody gives a tuppeny hoot, in a world where the Chinese buy over forty thousand new cars every day, whether the cheaper R&BT options currently plumped for come at a “lower potential environmental impact”. Fact. Providing a permanent, fail-safe solution to the everlasting landslide problem at the R&BT is a practical problem that no politician can solve.

This is a matter for a top drawer engineer and the only action the politicians and high ranking civil servants need to take is to make sure the required funding is in place for the real solution to be built. I think we all now know that the more skilled and successful the politician, the less we can believe what they want us to believe. We can only hope they come to their senses before we vote them back out of government.

 

we don’t want fewer closures, we want no closures

Note that both Michael Russel and Keith Murray are keen that we should be impressed by the amount of money that has been spent on the cheaper options effected to date. Mr Russel states “over £40 million on the A83 so far – there were fewer closures than previous years”. Well the winter’s not finished yet. And Mr Murray “over £48 million maintaining the A83 since 2007 -this includes £9 million at the R&BT”. Surely not much in an era when we can spend £776 million on the controversial Edinburgh trams and £414 million on a questionable new building for the Scottish parliament? The trouble with that line of argument is that many of us don’t believe the cost saving really will achieve anything worthwhile in the long run and we don’t want fewer closures, we want no closures. That will require the expensive tunnel option, then the A83 will really be ‘open for business’.

£1.2 Million Down the Drain

Like many of you, Tiree Community Councillors are unhappy – to say the least – at the state of the island’s roads only a few months after Argyll and Bute spent £1.2 million improving them.

Having completed my own survey of the Tiree road network I was amazed to see potholes, flooded cattle grids, poor passing place signage in some areas, bumpy, badly – finished passing places and other serious faults.

road_edgeThe most significant of these are the badly formed road edges which are now crumbling away and could result in safety concerns, particularly in the summer months when cyclists move in to allow cars to pass. We were told that this improvement programme would ensure that the roads would be serviceable for the next fifteen years. The way things are going they will be lucky to survive another winter!

The Tiree Community Council has passed on a 14 point document outlining faults to the head of roads at Argyll and Bute. This is backed up by photographs – all of which make it clear that the so-called improvements are inadequate for a modern road system. Now we are seeking to meet road officials because we believe the whole exercise has been a botch-up and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

potholeThe Council’s reaction to the points raised after our survey was, quite simply, to brush off every single one of our complaints as nonsense. We have also been told that there is no more money in the pot for Tiree’s roads. The purse is empty and there will be no more ‘improvements’ for a very long time to come.

Please feel free to send us your own thoughts on the road programme and if you think it has indeed been £1.2 million down the drain! We’d like to hear from you! You can contact us at alisonk@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk or www.tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

A little councelling

notes

IN JULY 2010 TCB WROTE TO A&B COUNCIL RAISING VARIOUS MATTERS THAT WERE BEING DISCUSSED ON THE ISLAND. FOLLOWING IS A COPY OF THE ORIGINAL LETTER AND THE COUNCIL’S RESPONSE.

Dear Mrs Loudon,
As there is currently no Community Council on the Island of Tiree many of the normal issues regarding the provision of Council services falling within your remit fail to receive the attention they would otherwise expect.

As Tiree Community Business Limited are in regular contact with the public through both our office and newsletter, we frequently receive representations on some of these matters which would otherwise normally be dealt with by a Community Council.

Of immediate concern to the public at this time are the following issues: White statutory road markings, Statutory Road signs faded or missing, Cattle grids that are full of weeds, Missing passing place signs, Weed encroachment in road centres.

These points are of course in addition to the ongoing concerns of the quality of road surfaces on the Island. We trust that you will not object to us bringing these matters to your attention as we were unsure, following the recent Council re-organisation, who’s responsibility the Roads networks is.

Directors, Tiree Community Business Limited

COUNCIL RESPONSE FROM SALLY LOUDEN ON BEHALF OF SANDY MACTAGGART

To Directors, TCB I refer to your email of 1 July(2010) and the various issues raised therein.

It is essential that, when planning roads-related maintenance works on the island, our programme of works takes due cognisance of the limited available budget. With regard to the concerns raised by islanders, I would comment as follows:-

  • Road markings – We will arrange to enhance white lines at those junctions which we consider to represent a safety-related problem.
  • Road signs – We are carrying out a ‘rolling programme’ of sign renewal; this work will be carried out annually as budgets permit. Signs will be renewed on a priority basis – defined by actual condition and importance of the sign.
  • Cattle grids – I can confirm that cleaning of cattle grids will be carried out over the summer months.
  • Passing place signs – As per sign replacement, new passing place signs will be installed as part of the rolling programme.
  • Weed encroachment in road centres – In the past we have found that the act of removing weeds from road centres actually causes more harm than good i.e. killing and scraping weeds from the road centre can actually cause damage to the road surface. We will carry this operation out, normally, prior to road resurfacing works. Nevertheless, the local roads inspector will have a look at this problem on his next visit to the island.
  • Quality of road surface – I am aware that surfacing work was carried out during the last financial year following damage which could be directly attributed to erection of the wind turbine. I can confirm that the jet patching machine has been sent to Tiree this week to carry out patching works on island roads. However, in general, given the relatively light traffic levels on the island, we believe that roads are fit for purpose.

I must thank you for bringing the above concerns to my attention. If you are agreeable, I will arrange for a representative from Roads and Amenity Services to call in and discuss roads-related issues with you on their next visit to the island.

In the meantime, if you have any pressing issues requiring attention please feel free to contact Stewart Clark (Contracts Manager on 01546 604893) or Graham Stone (Technical Officer on 01631 563264).

AT A TCB DIRECTORS MEETING IN DECEMBER THESE COMMUNICATIONS WERE DISCUSSED. IT WAS FELT THAT A NUMBER OF ISSUES WERE STILL OUTSTANDING SO ANOTHER E-MAIL WAS SENT………

Dear Mr Mactaggart

Further to your email of 9th July 2010 in which you respond to a series of concerns raised with you by Tiree Community Business Limited regarding the quality of the roads on Tiree.

The Directors note that no substantive work or remedial action has taken place on any of the action points promised within your email copied to you below.

While we realise that the Council Revenue Budget is reducing year on year, the deterioration of the road network is now causing serious concern. Additionally, it would be interesting to know the overall roads/repair/maintenance revenue budget for Oban Lorn and the Isles and specifically for Tiree. Would you please re-visit the action points contained within your email below and thereafter advise on what action you propose to take. Look forward to hearing from you.

Directors, TCB

THE COUNCILS RESPONSE WILL BE PRINTED IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF AN TIRISDEACH