Will speed reduction be enough at Memsie?

FOLLOWING a number of recent accidents at the Memsie crossroads, Aberdeenshire Council has recommended that changes be made in an attempt to reduce incidents in the area.

The roads service has suggested that the speed limit on the A981 Fraserburgh to Strichen road be reduced at the crossroads from 50mph to 40mph.

As well as this, a new sign is to be erected, as well as changes to the current ‘STOP’ sign and the repainting of the road markings, increasing the size of them to the largest accepted.

Roads officer Alan Burns told the Herald this week: “The recommendation will go before the next Banff and Buchan Area Committee meeting.

“If the recommendation gets the go ahead, the statutory consultations will be held, and if there are no objections the changes will be made.

“The process can take up to five months before it is changed and implemented providing it gets the go-ahead, but in the meantime changes will be made to the signs and road markings.”

SNP councillor Brian Topping is delighted with the news, after previously calling for the council to reduce the speed limit at the accident blackspot.

Councillor Topping, who is a leading campaigner on safety issues and president of the Scottish Accident Prevention Council, made the call earlier this month, after the latest in a series of accidents at Memsie.

Commenting, he said: “There have been a large number of accidents over recent years at Memsie, some of them sadly involving fatalities.

“I have made a number of suggestions to Aberdeenshire Council and I am delighted that action has been taken.

“It has been made quite clear, however, that speed has not been the cause of these accidents and I think everything should be done to ensure people are aware on approaching the junction. This is definitely a step in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Ian Tait is calling on Memsie folk and visitors to counter-sign his letter to Chief Constable Colin McKerracher which calls for speed cameras to be erected at the dangerous village junction.

In a letter to the Grampian Police chief Cllr Tait says his constituents have asked him to write on their behalf requesting the installation of cameras at the junction - most notably at that side of the junction where the B9032 comes from the Ardlaw side.

Cllr Tait, who has left the letter to be signed at Memsie Garage, writes: “The council officer clearly identified that location as being of particular danger because drivers are not stopping at the junction at all or are moving further forward than they should. They therefore feel that there should be cameras there to identify offenders who can then be pursued and punished.

“Apparently, your support is required in order to erect cameras there. I would therefore put my constituents’ request to you that you support the installation of cameras at that particular side of the junction and await your response for onward transferral to my constituents.”

Speaking to the Herald, Cllr Tait said: “I would urge as many of my constituents as possible to sign it. I will then collect it and send it on to the Chief Constable.”

And while happy that the local authority is looking into a new speed limit he maintains that more still needs to be done.

“We won the reduction of the speed limit at the public meeting which I called and the signage does need to be looked at, but we need cameras at that junction coming from Ardlaw,” he said.

“We also need the sign on the A981 currently showing 50mph to be changed to one showing the actual speed the driver is going at. I have also arranged to meet roads officers at the junction to discuss what road markings can be put down to emphasise that motorists are approaching a dangerous junction.”

At the meeting earlier this month residents were told by Mr Burns of the council that due to current legislation lowering the speed limit to 30mph wouldn’t be an option.

Speaking to the Herald, John Buchan, owner of the village garage, said: “The changes won’t be enough. I have been at the garage all my life, and have been campaigning for this bit of road to be made safer for many years, as were my mother and father.

“I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the legislation won’t let it go further. My wife and I live across from the garage at the crossroads and we can no longer let our three children cross the road themselves, they have to either be escorted or driven over it.

“I’ve seen a number of incidents in my lifetime, and three or four already this year, people don’t realise but we also lose a lot of time at the garage as we are always first on scene. We can be tied up for one maybe two hours giving statements to the police.

“I think many of the other Memsie residents feel the same about this.”