Road Safety Week sees approval of reduced speed limit at Kirkton of Skene

I was pleased that Road Safety Week has been marked in my ward by the Garioch Area Committee approving today the implementation of a Traffic Management Order (TMO) which includes the reduction of speed limit to 50mph on the A944 west of Gairloch Smiddy to Mason Lodge, an overall distance of 2030 metres. Within the five year period from January 2012 to December 2016, of the 17 accidents reported to Police Scotland, 65% of these involved inappropriate speeds. The purpose of the 50mph speed limit is to reduce the number and severity of collisions at the crossroads.

The TMO earlier went to public consultation. An objector argued that safety should be improved on the bends of the road and drainage needs to be looked at. The Roads team have been asked to investigate drainage issues and I have today requested an early report back to ward members. Officers today stated that the bends on the route where vehicles have known to have left the road have already been identified for inclusion in next year’s surfacing programme and again, I asked for early implementation.

Drivers will be aware that on both sides of the smiddy junction, there are “slow down” LED warning signs. Unfortunately these are out of order at the moment. My final request was to ensure these are fixed promptly and that they remain in place to complement the new speed limit.

The additional journey time travelling at 50mph rather than 60mph over the proposed change, we are told, would equate to 14 seconds (the time I took to type the first 20 words of this blog!).

Please look out for each other on the roads.


Road users urged to have Safer September following motorcyclists’ deaths.

Following the deaths of three motorcyclists on Moray and Aberdeenshire roads in two months, road users are being told to have a ’Safer September‘.

Two riders and one pillion passenger have died in the area since July, prompting the two councils to encourage motorists to be vigilant. Aberdeenshire and Moray have numerous routes which provide great opportunities to see the north-east at its best, however, thinking about road safety throughout your journey can make it a much safer experience.

Councillor Peter Argyle, Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee and the council’s Deputy Leader, said: “North-east roads can be very busy during the summer months and with autumn now approaching, September is often seen by motorcyclists as one of the final months where good riding conditions are available.    

“When someone is killed in a road traffic incident, they are not just another number – they are someone’s family member, best friend or partner and a huge hole will always be left behind by their loss.

“Under the helmet and leathers, or inside any vehicle, is a person with a life, people who love and depend on them. Everyone needs to remember this when considering taking risks on public roads.”

Leader of Moray Council, Cllr George Alexander, said the recent death toll is distressing for all.

“Motorcycling is clearly growing as a leisure pursuit, which on our rural roads is perfectly understandable,” he said.

“But, as I’m frequently told by motorcyclists, it’s a pursuit that requires complete concentration at all times, so I would ask all riders to take that extra bit of care, concentrate and watch the speed.

“Everyone using the roads, irrespective of the mode of transport they are using, has to be mindful about their own and other road users’ safety.  A momentary loss of concentration, being distracted or a poor decision can result in a catastrophic outcome.”

Police Scotland Road Policing Inspector Jon Barron said: “I am acutely aware of the desperately tragic toll following road traffic collisions and that too many families have suffered and are continuing to suffer across our area.

“Road users can help by concentrating fully, by paying attention to what is going on around them and by making sure that their vehicle is safe and they are fit to drive or ride. 

“Please look out for each other, particularly more vulnerable road users including motorcyclists, pedal cyclists and pedestrians and play your part in keeping north east roads safe.”

The ‘Safer September’ message is simple; enjoy travelling in the north-east, but remain focussed on your driving, riding and the road around you.


Expect chips with new dressings!

fleein chuckies

Aberdeenshire Council is calling for motorists to be vigilant and be aware of loose chips on “newly dressed roads”.

Work begins shortly on roads around Westhill and District to improve weather-damaged roads.

The council says the technique of laying hot bitumen, followed by chippings, gives better grip to vehicles.

But it means drivers need to take extra care when passing over treated sections as there is a short term, heightened risk of skidding.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Roads and Landscape Services, Philip McKay, said: “Warning signs advising of surface dressing works are always erected prior to work starting, and remain in place for several days after the work has been carried out.

“While it sometimes may appear that a road is clear and suitable for normal use, there may still be loose chippings to watch out for, so I would urge road users to always adhere to advisory signs and drive at the appropriate speed.

“Driving at excessive speed over loose chippings can cause spinning and skidding, as well as chipping to windscreens and paintwork. I would urge road users to drive at the advised speed limit to avoid any accidents.”

The council’s director of infrastructure services, Stephen Archer, said: “Surface dressing is often carried out while the road is still open to traffic, so I would strongly advise motorists to take extra care when out on Aberdeenshire’s roads this summer.

“Road users should always bear in mind that a roads crew could be carrying out surface dressing works just around the next corner – we want you and our colleagues to stay safe while we’re improving the roads network.”

Misuse of disabled parking at Westhill Shopping Centre


We are all pleased I am sure that the building work at the shopping centre is now complete apart from a small list of issues over which the Community Council are in correspondence with the owners.

A request has been made by a resident to have eye-level “disabled parking” notices near the bays so that they can be clearly seen especially in wintery weather. I have also been following this up for the resident who herself is disabled. She is championing for fellow disabled neighbours and friends, not just herself.

She has pointed out a further issue whereby delivery vans are dropping off in front of the shops, using the disabled parking bays.

Charges and conditions of use in off-street car parks are a contractual matter between the car park owner and the motorist. Enforcement of parking bays for people with disabilities is therefore a matter for the individual owner or operator of the car park.

If a non-disabled motorist has parked in a bay reserved for people with disabilities in a private car park, for example a supermarket, an employee of the store can ask the driver to move their car from the reserved space – but they cannot legally insist on it.

I have therefore written to the management of the shopping centre to highlight not only a health and safety matter but an equalities issue.

I hope that both issues are addressed speedily.

Closure of Westhill to Kirkton of Skene road


Please note that due to URGENT VERGE MAINTENANCE WORKS to be carried out by ABERDEENSHIRE COUNCIL – LANDSCAPE SERVICES it will be necessary in the interests of public safety to apply the following restriction to traffic.



From the junction with U97c to Kirkton of Skene

On Wednesday 23 September 2015 for 1 day (from 9.30 am to 3.30pm).

Access for pedestrians and to adjacent properties will be maintained at all times.

Site notices will be erected in due course indicating the temporary restriction to traffic and the alternative routes where applicable.

The alternative route is via B979 Kirkton of Skene to A944, A944 to Broadstraik Road, Westhill, U95c to as shown on the attached plan.



Why so many broken speed limit signs?

The issue of temporary speed limit signs being out of commission invariably crops up at public meetings all across Aberdeenshire. The following response has been received from the council:

 “Council engineers attend any signage faults which are reported. After initial checks for timer programme faults a council electrician would then check the power supply. If no programme or power faults are found a job is raised with our external contractor to repair the sign.

 “The contractor is not local and so waits until a batch of repairs builds up before sending personnel to carry repairs, which can cause delays.

 “Roads officers are in the process of carrying out a review of flashing speed limit signs in Aberdeenshire in order to ensure that they are working to the highest standard possible and provide the desired impact to address local issues.

 “However, we would like to remind motorists that they should always be adhering to permanent, traditional speed limit signs situated both in and out of urban areas, and that flashing signs are an additional reinforcement measure.”


Promoting safety at school gates

school sign

Over recent weeks and months, I have been meeting with parent councils and teachers as well as getting feedback from concerned neighbours about irresponsible parking at local schools. Crombie, Elrick and Westhill Primary have ongoing parking issues. I am pleased that Aberdeenshire Council have launched the Park Smart campaign along with support from Police Scotland which aims to tackle potentially dangerous parking habits by educating road users and enforcing best practice.

A recent “Hands Up” survey carried out by Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, suggest that 22% of pupils from schools in Aberdeenshire are driven to school every day. With one in five journeys to school made by car, the safety of pupils to choose to walk or cycle is being put unnecessarily at risk. This in turn is putting families off allowing their children to walk or cycle to school on their own due to the dangers they could face at the school gate.

The Park Smart campaign aims to educate and enforce responsible parking around schools. A package of initiatives is being made available to schools as part of the campaign, giving pupils the chance to get involved and help spread the word. Police Scotland will carry out enforcement visits.

Every child should be able to get to school safely without having to face dangers caused by a minority of irresponsible drivers.

Change of speed limit on A944 Westhill

40mph“Following many phone calls, emails and messages on social media, I have the following update on the change of speed limit from 50mph to 40mph.

As I posted previously, Aberdeen City Council consulted on this change in July 2014. According to the Minutes I have received from a City Council meeting on 4th September, the only objection received was from Westhill & Elrick Community Council which you can see below as well as the City Council’s response to that objection:

“5.11.1 An objection to the introduction of the proposed 40mph speed limit on the A944 between the Prime Four Development and the City Boundary at Westhill has been received from the Westhill and Elrick Community Council. The objector feels that the proposed introduction of a 40mph speed limit is simply to reduce driver confusion by introducing a uniform speed limit whilst increasing driver frustration and encouraging drivers to ignore the speed limit, especially as this is a dual carriageway with few dwelling houses. The objector also mentions that the sections of the A944, Lang Stracht between the Skene Road junction and James Cocker roses, and the B9119, Skene Road from the A944 junction to Groats Road are currently single carriageway with a 50mph speed limit imposed.”

5.11.2 Response to objection

The proposed restrictions are intended to rationalise the speed limit on the section of the A944, Aberdeen to Alford road on the section between Kingswells and Westhill in light of current and future developments including the AWPR interchange at the Five Mile Garage. This reduction will tie in with the 40mph speeds limits currently in place at the Arnhall Development, Westhill and the Prime Four Development at Kingswells. The current 50mph speed limits on the A944 and B9119 to the east of Kingswells are to be reassessed in light of the proposed development at the Den of Maidencraig.

Given the aforementioned, it is recommended that the reduced speed limit of 40mph be introduced on the section of A944 between the Arnhall and Prime Four developments to the extent highlighted in Appendix 1 and the order therefore produced to reflect this.”

Aberdeen City Council also advised me today that the final written order for the change in the speed limit was advertised in the press on the 11th February with the date for implementation as yesterday.

Two VMS signs were due to go out yesterday, but due to emergency works by their In-house contractor this was delayed until today. Those who travelled home tonight will have noticed these, as did I. Unfortunately some motorists did not!

Safe driving.




Road Safety – Call to drivers over mobiles

Cllr Iris Walker with Inspector Jon Millar

Courtesy of The Press and Journal Wednesday, January 21, 2015

“An Aberdeenshire councillor is urging drivers to think twice about using their mobile phone behind the wheel.

Westhill councillor Iris Walker has launched a campaign to promote road safety by highlighting the dangers of talking or texting while driving.

Signs have been erected on the dual carriageway at Westhill and in the surrounding areas and police will educate drivers if they are stopped for the offence.

Ms Walker said “Studies show that drivers who use a mobile phone are much less aware of what is happening around them, fail to see road signs, react more slowly, take longer to brake and longer to stop.

“They are also four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves or others.

“We know that there are a high number of drivers on their phones who go undetected – we see them every day. The police cannot be everywhere. Drivers need to be more aware of the dangers.”

Inspector Jon Millar of the Garioch local policing team said “Driving whilst using a mobile phone is a significant distraction to any driver. It is important that all drivers are fully aware of what is going on around them and are free from distraction and fully engaging in driving safely. In built up areas, a driver needs to be able to respond to any number of hazards and the message is clear: if you need to take a call, then pull over.”