Shared space U-turn for Kirkintilloch?

10-01-2017 Picture Roberto Cavieres. 
  roadworks of Cowgate in Kirkintilloch - between Catherine Street and the William Patrick Library
10-01-2017 Picture Roberto Cavieres. roadworks of Cowgate in Kirkintilloch - between Catherine Street and the William Patrick Library

A controversial shared space scheme in Kirkintilloch may be reversed - after its two main backers this week conceded it was not working.

Now it is hoped traffic lights will be reinstated at the busy Catherine Street junction in the town centre, which has been the scene of a string of road accidents recently.

East Dunbartonshire Council and environment group Sustrans jointly 
financed the contentious new £3.1 million road layout along the whole of Cowgate.

Work is still continuing on the project which has seen controlled crossings and road markings removed, and kerbs lowered, leading to safety 
concerns, particularly for 
disabled and elderly people.

A spokesperson for Sustrans, who set the design criteria, told the Herald this week: “We have no wish to impose a design on the street that will not work for local people.

“Ducting has been included at the Catherine Street junction to accommodate controlled crossings if East Dunbartonshire Council judge that is required.”

However she added: “We do feel that taking the street back to one dominated by vehicles where the ‘car is king’ is not a step forward for the high street and completely removes any sense of ‘shared space’ in Kirkintilloch.”

Sustrans’ statement comes after Council Leader Rhondda Geekie admitted live on radio last week that the project had failed in Kirkintilloch and the decision over the removal of the lights could be reversed.

Strathkelvin MSP Rona Mackay, who has been calling for the lights to be put back, has now written to council depute chief executive Thomas Glen to discuss the way forward.

The SNP MSP said: “I have written asking how and when we can go about consulting in detail with vulnerable groups over what they would like to see implemented to places like Catherine Street. We must keep up the pressure.”

Thousands of people have been protesting over the council-led shared space project.

Disabled campaigner Sandy Taylor, who has been leading the protest, said: “At last, common sense has 
prevailed.”

Mr Taylor petitioned the Scottish Parliament last year for a moratorium on shared spaces until safety issues had been resolved.

During a meeting of the Public Petition Committee at Holyrood, Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said all local authorities should ensure shared spaces are “inclusive”.

Mr Taylor added: “I have learned this week that following comments made by Mr Yousaf, Sustrans have conceded a shared space scheme can include traffic controls, controlled crossings and kerbs.

“This in same week council leader Rhondda Geekie 
finally conceded live on radio the shared space scheme has been a failure.”

He added: “Over the past two years we have been told by both Councillor Geekie and Sustrans that to have controlled crossings along Cowgate would destroy the integrity of the scheme.”

He also hit out at Councillor Geekie’s comment on radio that the contract for the remainder of the work up to the town library must be fulfilled.

He said: “Surely commonsense will prevail and adjustments to the design made immediately to avoid a further waste of public money.”