Physical distancing funding set to improve pavements and create cycleway

South Kintyre's councillors, from left, Rory Colville, John Armour and Donald Kelly, are not in agreement about the best use of the funding.

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South Kintyre councillors Rory Colville and John Armour have welcomed news that funding is to be used to create a cycleway and improved pavements between Campbeltown Hospital and Campbeltown Grammar School.

However, fellow South Kintyre councillor Donald Kelly believes the money, which is being distributed to towns through Argyll to make it easier for people to move around town centres safely during the coronavirus pandemic, would be better used to improve infrastructure in the town centre, particularly to assist people with disabilities.

The plans, revealed by Argyll and Bute Council last Friday, follow consultation with local communities and stakeholders, and are possible thanks to the Spaces for People programme – a £38 million fund established by the Scottish Government and managed by a UK walking and cycling charity Sustrans to enable safe physical distancing for people walking, wheeling and cycling.

Argyll and Bute Council successfully applied for a total of £915,000 from the fund. The original £315,000 awarded for improvements related to town centres was topped up by a further £150,000 funding. There was also an additional £450,000 to improve walking and wheeling access to schools.

After fully analysing responses from the consultation, local area committees have agreed to go ahead with a number of projects across the authority area.

According to the council, the consultation identified that Campbeltown’s town centre already has sufficient space for physical distancing and maintaining all existing car parking spaces was seen as a priority.

Instead, work will focus on providing a cycleway and improved pavements on the section of Ralston Road between Campbeltown Hospital and Campbeltown Grammar School which is bounded by playing fields and therefore will not require any space to be taken from the existing road.

The council is also looking at the Esplanade to confirm if a segregated cycleway can be accommodated without losing any existing on-street parking.

Councillor Colville said: ‘I believe the analysis and participation in the consultation was excellent, the results from which, when linked to the new Traffic Regulation Order now in operation, will greatly improve access to town centre shopping.

‘I would also thank officers in gaining funding to improve social distancing on the narrow pavements leading to the Grammar school, something both myself and Councillor Armour were keen to achieve.’

Councillor Armour added: ‘The result of the consultation is exactly what I was hearing from local businesses and the public, that there was enough space in the middle of the town to social distance.

‘I think the idea of a cycleway and improved pavements between the hospital entrance and the school bus turning area is an excellent idea and something Councillor Colville and myself pushed hard for during the consultation.

‘The pavement in that area is far too narrow when pupils are coming and going from school so opening up the area and including a safe cycleway should allow a safe distance for those walking on the pavement and a new option with the cycleway.’

However, Councillor Kelly said: ‘Every grant and tranche of funding must be used to gain maximum benefit for the community. I would rather see this funding utilised in the town centre and surrounding area to make much-needed improvements to the pavements including installing drop kerbs to improve disabled access. This would be a much better use of what is a limited resource.’