Argyll police chief pledges better road signs as road collisions rise

Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, who chairs Argyll and Bute Council’s community services committee

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Better road signs are among the top priorities for police in Argyll and Bute to keep the area’s roads safe this summer, according to a senior officer.

Chief Superintendent Lynn Ratcliff made the comments after a councillor voiced concerns about statistics reporting three fatal road collisions in the final three months of 2021.

The deaths happened in crashes on the A85 at Taynuilt, the A815 near Dunoon, and the A83 near Tarbert.

Road casualties for the year to date in Argyll and Bute have increased by nearly 20 per cent.

Councillor Jim Anderson, Independent, Dunoon, voiced his concern at the statistics – and linked his concern to a predicted rise in ‘staycationing’ in Argyll and Bute over the summer.

Chief Superintendent Ratcliff said it was important to have the right education about road safety in place for visitors from overseas, who may not be used to driving on the left side of the road.

The discussion took place at a virtual meeting of Argyll and Bute Council’s community services committee on Thursday March 10.

Councillor Anderson said: ‘Looking at the statistics on fatalities and serious injuries, I know how hard it must be for the police to cover the area.

‘You mentioned ‘staycationing’ and that you would predict a lot more people coming into Argyll and Bute this year.

‘Have you got extra resources to deal with this problem, and can you elaborate on how you hope to manage them?’

Chief Superintendent Ratcliff replied: ‘It is something we are really focused on.

‘There is no doubt we will have a busy summer season, potentially seeing the return of visitors from abroad who we haven’t seen for a couple of years.

‘That brings some problems that I know members will be familiar with, in relation to not being familiar with road layouts, and even driving on the other side of the road.

‘It would disturb you to see the number of accidents previously on this. We need to work hard to ensure we have the education in place where it needs to be.

‘Just because people have been working from home, things like road signs that help keep people right may have become worn out or obscured by foliage or trees. The road policing inspector is working to get that improved.

‘On additional officers, we have significant support from our colleagues in road policing, which is different in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute.

‘They are based out of Dumbarton, and without being cynical, it really helps to have them in such close proximity. We have seen a great deal of that over the last few weeks.’

Councillor Anderson then said: ‘It sounds to me as if you need to work closely with [the council’s] amenity services about signage being covered over. They need to be aware of the situation.’

Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, Conservative, Cowal, the committee’s chairperson, added: ‘As part of the budget, the council put in an extra £200,000 for signage.

‘We know the importance of having the appropriate signage, sometimes in different languages.’