Cowgate to shut as work begins on shared space

Kirkintilloch's Cowgate
Kirkintilloch's Cowgate

Part of Kirkintilloch town centre will shut to vehicles for three months as work begins on a controversial shared space scheme.

The first phase of the project, which includes the removal of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings along Cowgate, including the busy Catherine Street junction, 
begins on Monday, February 8.

Cowgate will shut to vehicles between Townhead Bridge and Catherine Street for about 12 weeks.

According to East Dunbartonshire Council, pedestrian access through Cowgate will remain and businesses will be open as usual. A council spokesman said buses and vehicles can use the rest of Cowgate, Kerr Street and Catherine Street but there will be a diversion from Townhead onto New Lairdsland Road.

Work on the full project is expected to take 18 months.

Meanwhile, blind campaigner Sandy Taylor who has been heading the protest against the scheme, has accused the council of “deceiving the public” over a section of work taking place.

He told the Herald: “As part of a Traffic Regulation Order, the council has applied to install six flat-topped speed tables along Cowgate to replace the lights and crossings. This has been designed to deceive.”

He said that at earlier meetings of the Equality Design Forum, it was stated uncontrolled courtesy crossings would be mounted on six-metre long tables, flush with the pavement.

He added:“One table will in fact be 23 metres long.

“In total, raised tables account for 60 per cent of the entire project, from the library to the canal at Barleybank.

He added: “This is utterly outrageous. It was repeatedly stressed we would have pavements and kerbs.

“We now find less than half of the scheme will have defined pavements, the majority being a flat space where pedestrians and traffic will share the carriageway.

“The council appears to think they have license to do whatever they like, discriminating against the most vulnerable in our society.”

Mr Taylor and his supporters are appealing to the Scottish Government to place a moratorium on shared space schemes. He appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petition Committee last week.

The committee has agreed to write to local authorities, the Scottish Government, Sustrans, the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland, planners and the Association of Provinces of Netherlands in connection with the petition.

But East Dunbartonshire Council Leader Rhonnda Geekie said: “Innovative plans like the Cowgate public realm project are essential to make the town centre more accessible and desirable for all.”