‘Deathrow’ road review needed ‘as a matter of urgency’

There are concerns about the decision to direct traffic onto the busy Burnbank Street.
There are concerns about the decision to direct traffic onto Burnbank Street, which is home to busy garage and vehicle rental centre Kintyre Hire.

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Residents and business owners living and working in Campbeltown streets, where a temporary traffic management system is in force, say a roads review is urgently needed, ‘before someone is killed’.

Instead of being able to continue from Longrow – which some are now calling ‘Deathrow’ – onto Longrow South towards Main Street, traffic is directed via the newly one-way Burnbank Street onto the trunked Kinloch Road to reach the town centre.

In last week’s Courier, it was revealed South Kintyre councillor Donald Kelly had written to the council’s chief executive Pippa Milne to voice his concerns about ‘a high degree of apathy’ within the authority’s roads and amenity services department, regarding three main issues.

One of those was the impact of the new traffic management system, which was introduced in October 2020 and the fact cars are now diverted via Burnbank Street, which is home to busy garage and vehicle rental centre Kintyre Hire.

Jim McPhee of Kintyre Hire, whose family has been in business in Campbeltown for more than 100 years, 64 of them in Burnbank Street, is also concerned.

He said: ‘Over these years, we had different types of businesses working from these premises, repairing motorcycles, large heavy goods vehicles, heavy plant, all types of agricultural machinery, cars, vans, buses, you name it. During that time, the two-way system worked without any incidents.

‘This new route has caused nothing but a bottle neck and is not fit-for-purpose.

‘Jim Smith, the council’s head of roads and amenity services, and South Kintyre councillor Rory Colville came on a trip round the route in our 7.5 ton truck early one morning but, unfortunately for our cause, the road was quieter than normal.

‘I hope Mr Smith could see the pitfalls, especially coming down Longrow, with the traffic having only one option – instead of taking Longrow South or Burnbank Street, it now has to go down Burnbank to the Kinloch Road junction.

‘We must be one of the only places in Britain that diverts traffic onto a trunk road. All for the sake of a no right-hand turn at the Longrow South junction with Main Street.

‘The quicker the old system is reinstated, the safer and better the traffic will flow.

‘We thank councillors Kelly, Colville and any others who may be working in the background, for all their efforts and can only hope their voices are heard at Kilmory [council headquarters].

‘Hopefully there’s a solution to this problem before there’s a tragedy.’

A resident of Albert Place on Burnbank Street has described the street as ‘a shambles’ since the change.

‘The parking and congestion is a disgrace,’ he said. ‘It’s becoming dangerous trying to cross as a pedestrian and the junction with Kinloch Road is really difficult to navigate out of in a car of because of the parking.

‘Burnbank Street is not fit to be a main thoroughfare. I’m very surprised there hasn’t been an accident there yet.’

Longrow resident Jimmy Coats also branded the new system ‘a shambles’ and added: ‘I am very surprised someone hasn’t been killed yet. I stay in the middle of Longrow, now renamed ‘Deathrow’, where something has to be done – and soon.’

Hamish Dunlop, who runs a mobile phone shop on Longrow South, said he witnesses near accidents ‘just about every day’ on the also newly one-way street.

‘Whoever designed it needs their head examined and the same for whoever agreed for it all to go forward,’ he said. ‘It’s madness.’

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson told the Courier it undertook a full public consultation as part of the process to introduce the new traffic system in Campbeltown, including a drop-in event.

‘We made changes to the plans as a result of the feedback received and the new Traffic Regulation Order for the town was agreed by councillors in March 2019,’ said the spokesperson.

‘No significant concerns have been reported to us about the new layout, however, we are in discussion with Transport Scotland to look at ways of improving visibility for traffic turning onto Kinloch Road from the junction at Burnbank Street.

‘We intend to review the layout over the course of this year and a report will be provided to councillors.

‘In the meantime, we would urge anyone with concerns to report these to us on the council website or by calling 01546 605514.’

Councillor Colville is also encouraging people to contact the council or any of their local councillors to report their own issues with the system.

‘What is now in place was approved by the Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Islands Area Committee and there was a long consultation with the public,’ he said.

‘Council officers are aware of the concerns that have been expressed and a review will take place but it is a long, complicated process.

‘We cannot change things overnight, but we are listening to what people are saying.’

Councillor Kelly, who received a quick response from Ms Milne to his letter of complaint, said: ‘I am pleased the chief executive of the council recognises that problems do exist within the roads and amenity services department and that measures are now being taken to provide answers and hopefully much-needed solutions.

‘Regarding the traffic management problem, someone needs to step up to the plate and provide a solution as a matter of urgency.

‘If permanent changes to Campbeltown’s traffic management system are to take place, it is essential a full public consultation is carried out in a professional and competent manner.’

Fellow South Kintyre councillor John Armour has also been in discussions with council officers about the town centre traffic management issues.