85% want lights back – but LibDem/Tories to monitor Kirkintilloch junction for further 18 months

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Campaigners have branded a decision by East Dunbartonshire Council to delay the return of traffic lights at a busy town centre junction “a democratic disgrace”.

A public consultation was held in February by the council in relation to Catherine Street, part of Kirkintilloch’s controversial shared space.

An overwhelming 85 per cent of people were in favour of the controlled crossings being reinstated at the junction.

But at a meeting of the council on Thursday night, Kirkintilloch councillor Susan Murray (LibDem) moved to continue monitoring the junction for a further 18 months.

She was backed by fellow LibDem and Tory coalition councillors, along with Labour councillor Alan Moir and Independent councillor Duncan Cumming.

An amendment from SNP group leader Gordan Low, calling for work to start on reinstating the crossings as a result of the consultation, was defeated by 14-7 votes.

Councillor Low told the Herald: “Last June, the SNP, at that time the minority administration on the council, put forward a motion calling for reinstatement of the lights as soon as possible. However, LibDem and Tory councillors insisted further community consultation was required, even going so far as to claim ‘further consultation will not delay putting the traffic lights back’.

“Well, the community has spoken again, and an overwhelming majority – 85 per cent – has demanded lights are returned.

“But instead of accepting that verdict, the LibDem/Tory administration has chosen to delay for another 18 months before a decision is made. Even if they do eventually see sense, it would then be the best part of three years before the lights are reinstated.

“We all know what needs to be done and we need action now – not in three years”.

Last week, Kirkintilloch MP Stuart McDonald joined leading local blind campaigner Sandy Taylor and shared space activists petitioning outside No10.

It is a year since the cross-party Women’s and Equality Committee called for a halt to all local shared space schemes pending “the urgent replacement” of national guidance to take into account disabled persons’ views and needs.

In response to the local council’s decision, Mr McDonald said: “Further prevarication on this matter means that children, the elderly, people with visual impairment and many others will continue to feel unsafe in Kirkintilloch town centre”.

A representative of local campaigners said: “The council decision to ignore the demands of 85 per cent of respondents to its consultation is a democratic disgrace. They are treating the public with utter contempt. The 18-month monitoring period would be a pointless 
exercise”.

At Thursday night’s meeting, councillors did agree, however, to install a pedestrian crossing outside the former Greggs premises at Cowgate.

The campaigner said: “While the introduction of a push button controlled Puffin Crossing at the former Greggs is a positive move forward for some, without proper kerbs and the confusing use of tactile paving, it is still impossible for blind and visually impaired people to navigate their streets, therefore the town remains a no-go area”

As the Herald went to press on Monday, Councillor Murray said: “It was clear the majority want the traffic lights back and I support this.

“I am determined to get the best result for Kirkintilloch, so a full road network traffic modelling of the wider town centre will also start immediately.”

She added this would her priority and she would be having monthly meetings with council officers.