Councillor Ian Tait has called on Aberdeenshire Council and Grampian Police to give the public greater involvement when reviewing traffic issues.
His appeal comes on the eve of work starting on a controversial scheme to introduce traffic calming measures in the Kirkton Road area of Fraserburgh.
He stressed that having a dialogue was crucial, saying: “My own view is that if the police, the council and residents had worked together to deal with the issues at the start when any problems on Strichen Road slip road were first raised by the complainant, then we could have achieved a better result and at a saving of the £25,000-£30,000 which the council will spend to lay down the humps.
“I am quite sure that if the police and council officials had said to the residents that it was going to be either humps or they would have to report any speeders then the police would have been inundated with reports of any speeders, who could have been punished and the problem would have been quickly solved at little or no cost to the taxpayer,” he said.
The Fraserburgh councillor also questioned both agencies’ commitment to consultation in this instance, stating: “Both the council and the police say they consult and listen to local people. I do not think my constituents would agree with that in this case. Local residents were consulted certainly by the council going through procedures, but they were not listened to in the sense that their views were taken on-board.
“Indeed, the bus company was listened to, whereas the residents were not. The council officials actually wanted sleeping policemen rather than speed cushions. But when they consulted the bus company, they said they would prefer cushions for their buses rather than the sleeping policemen and their views were taken on board. I find it disappointing that the views of the bus company were taken on board, but those of an overwhelming number of my constituents were ignored,” he added.
According to Councillor Tait, a new approach is desperately needed, as he explained: “We need a fresh, more energetic approach from local police management to interact and work with the law-abiding people in this town.
“We need the Roads Service to start involving local residents affected by council decisions to try to work with local people instead of just going through procedures and ending up antagonising them by imposing solutions against their wishes. It would save money too,” he added.
He said that council leader Councillor Anne Robertson and chief executive Colin MacKenzie had both declined the invitation to meet with local residents to discuss the issues and to see if an alternative could be found to the humps.
“The Police have not yet confirmed one way or the other. If the police wish to meet with residents then I will still arrange the meeting. I believe that both the residents and myself have done everything we could to try to stop the humps.”
Responding to the comments made by Cllr Tait, a council spokesman said: “Consultation is very important to this council and we have approved procedures for engaging with communities on issues which matter to them before taking their views into account.
“In this particular instance, residents complained about traffic volumes and speeds and we acted on that, initially consulting with 340 nearby residents, the community council, local councillors and the local safety group on the proposals. As is normal, Grampian Police were also involved from an early stage.
“Following consideration and approval by the Banff and Buchan Area Committee, Statutory Consultations were carried out at the end of 2009.
“This involved the AA, RAC, Freight Transport Association, Road Haulage Association, Emergency Services, Right to Ride Cycling Group and various local groups and associations. Formal public consultation was undertaken at the start of last year which gave residents another opportunity to raise concerns and the proposals were subject to extensive debate.
“The matter has had a detailed airing, and the views of the Area Committee, which has the delegated authority in this matter, have been made clear. Committee overruled outstanding objections and approved the implementation of the traffic calming measures and 20mph speed limits by 4 votes to 3, with 1 abstention.
“We will continue to keep residents and ward members informed about the work to be done and timescales for completion.”
Local residents have been informed by letter that work is due to start at the following streets: Strichen Road Service Road; Kirkton Road; Derbyhall Avenue; Middleburgh Road; Cairnhill Drive; Cairnhill Road.
The works will be carried out between February 21 and March 4. To allow the surfacing of the raised junction at the Strichen Road Service Road and Corbie Drive junction, the Service Road will require to be closed for up to five days from the February 28.