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Accident waiting to happen? Nairn-shire residents call for speed limit cut

By Federica Stefani

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Kenny Spink, Rob Simpson, Stuart Skinner, Kevin Dunbar, Bee Milne and Gordon Nicolson. Picture: Callum Mackay..
Kenny Spink, Rob Simpson, Stuart Skinner, Kevin Dunbar, Bee Milne and Gordon Nicolson. Picture: Callum Mackay..

A group of Nairn-shire residents and businesses are calling for a change of speed limit on a stretch of the A939 road approaching the town.

Local resident and architectural design specialist Kenny Spink has launched a petition to bring the speed limit at part of the road between the Househill Business Centre and the A96 – which is partly at national speed limit – down to 30mph due to road safety concerns.

The petition highlights the risk for pedestrians and motorists using the route, due to a stretch of exposed pedestrian footpath – framed on both sides by stone walls with no pedestrian refuge and no lighting – and two hazardous corners, one of which is marked as a 30mph but only for vehicles travelling towards Nairn.

Mr Spink said that the road is a "real safety risk" in an area with several businesses and homes – and popular for heavy goods vehicles.

He said: "I stay in a house in the corner, and that's where my office is.

"When my boy – who is 10 – crosses the road to get to school, he has to pass a blind corner with vehicles coming at potentially 60mph. I have seen more than that on a couple of occasions.

"Every time I see him cross the road I have my heart in my mouth – you can hear the cars passing.

"It's the only road in Nairn that's not restricted on input or output of the town.

"This section of road is used daily for school children making their way to primary and secondary school, by staff who walk to work at the Househill Business Centre, and by all of the homes and businesses accessing the road here. Our refuse collection services, Royal Mail, and all other deliveries have to navigate this section of generally domestic road whilst contending with traffic travelling up to the national speed limit.

"We want to help make this road safe."

The petition – which at the time of writing has gathered approximately 60 signatures – was sparked by these concerns as well as plans for a potential new yard which Mr Spink is working on alongside applicant Highland Fencing & Barrier Contractors.

Operations director Rob Simpson said although the planning application is live, the layout of the road made it a safety hazard should it be kept at national speed limit.

"Even if our application is refused, the speed really needs to be taken down," he said.

"There are many people, elderly and children among them, walking round there all the time.

"Are they going to wait for a fatality before the speed limit is reduced?"

Nairn River Community Council has previously campaigned to make the A939 stretch between the A96 and the cemetery safer – particularly highlighting the need for further traffic-calming measures at the pedestrian crossing.

A speed survey carried out by Highland Council has shown daily occurrences of speeding including some vehicles travelling at as much as 60mph and one recorded doing more than 80mph – at about 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon.

However, Nairn River chairman Hamish Bain said that plans for the new yard would bring more commercial traffic to the area.

He said: "As a community council we haven't had the chance to meet and discuss this proposal yet, so this is my personal view – reducing the speed limit is something that I very much welcome.

"However, without proper controls by police speeding will continue. My concern is also that if a new yard is built in that area, the increase in commercial traffic would become a further risk for pedestrians."

Gordon Nicolson,who owns and farms the area at Househill Mains, said that he regularly has to deal with cars coming off the road from the sharp bend and ending up into his field.

He said: "It has become quite regular, I have cars in the field around four times a year.

"Normally it's cars coming out of Nairn – we have had quite a bit of damage done at the corner. Nine times out of 10 if it's not damaged, the car gets away and we are left to repay damages to the fence – and sometimes there is livestock there that could go onto the road.

"It's just dangerous. If they were coming at 30mph they wouldn't build up that much speed and it would be much safer."

Bee Milne, who owns the Househill café and farm shop, said that speeding on the road is a concern for staff and customers.

She said: "I think it's dangerous for pedestrians. There is no footpath that goes round that bend and it is a 60mph road and blind corner and there are a lot of heavy vehicles.

"There have been multiple road incidents which have happened at the bend further up past the café.

"I think our customers would benefit from it being reduced to 30mph, as at the moment they are coming out onto a 60mph road with limited visibility. "

Nairn councillor Michael Green said he welcomed the initiative and encouraged petitioners to come forward, adding: "I'd be happy to support it if the relevant evidence is there and take it forward to the right [Highland Council] officer."

The petition is available at spink.design/petition-hillhouse and will remain open for 21 days before being presented to Highland Council.

A council spokesperson said: “The council has a petitions procedure – details of which can be found on our website.”

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