TWO years and £650k to return lights says report

24-03-2015 Picture Roberto Cavieres.  Kirkintilloch. Protest outside Council HQ over Catherine Street junction. Councillors arriving for meeting to decide on plans for junction. Sandy Taylor Visually Impaired Forum
24-03-2015 Picture Roberto Cavieres. Kirkintilloch. Protest outside Council HQ over Catherine Street junction. Councillors arriving for meeting to decide on plans for junction. Sandy Taylor Visually Impaired Forum

A shock report estimates it may cost up to £650,000 and take TWO YEARS to reinstate the traffic lights at Catherine Street junction at Cowgate.

The previous Lab/LibDem/
Tory administration at East Dunbartonshire Council removed the lights in 2015 as part of the controversial £3.1 million shared space project

Since then, there has been a public outcry, with thousands of residents complaining over safety concerns and a number of accidents at the junction.

There has been particular concern that disabled and blind people are effectively 
being banished from the town centre.

The new report, by engineering, environment and design consultancy Sweco, barely mentions vulnerable groups, apart from the elderly – and only in relation to the lights being returned.

It states: “Older people require to rest frequently and long waits standing can be uncomfortable. They face multiple waits to cross more than one arm of the junction. Waiting times will increase to around two minutes.”

In response, one elderly resident told the Herald: “I would rather wait and cross safely than navigate my way across this shamble of a 
junction that it is now.”

The report, which was commissioned by the council, also criticises the previous signalled junction - describing it as “largely unacceptable for pedestrians” and “difficult” for vulnerable users to “manoeuvre”.

The report lists several options for return of the lights - costing between £417,000 and £647,000.

Taking into account, design work, technical approvals, traffic regulation orders and construction work, Sweco reckon the timescale to completion could be more than two years.

Campaigners, led by Sandy Taylor, Chair of East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired Peoples Forum (EVIP), have been battling for the shared space to be scrapped for the past two years because of safety concerns.

A recent Scottish seminar, made up of disabled person’s organisations, local authorities, planners, and street designers ruled that shared spaces are “excluding disabled people from areas”.

It recommended local authorities call a halt to their use until there is clear, national guidance that explicitly addresses the needs of disabled people.

In June this year, the council’s new minority SNP administration argued the possibility of reinstating traffic lights at Catherine Street junction be addressed “as a matter of urgency”.

The report, which will inform the public consultation 
going forward on the Cowgate scheme, will be discussed by councillors at a meeting of the full council on Thursday.

It is unlikely that the 
public consultation will be completed until well into the New Year.