Councillors hear pleas for action on Bonnyrigg road

Petitioner Fiona Gilbert, pictured next to the busy road in Bonnyrigg.
Petitioner Fiona Gilbert, pictured next to the busy road in Bonnyrigg.

A community which says it is plagued by speeding drivers and heavy lorries should not have to wait for someone to die before action is taken, councillors heard last week.

More than 112 people signed a petition put before Midlothian Council’s petitions committee calling for more action to be taken to clamp down on traffic problems in Bonnyrigg.

Fiona Gilbert, who raised the petition, told the committee that people living in the old part of the town, which she said now had more than 17,500 residents, wanted to see better signage for its current 30mph speed limit, weight restrictions on HGVs and, if possible, a reduction in the speed limit to 20mph.

Referring to the B704 Hillhead/High Street area of Bonnyrigg, she told councillors that one family with young children had already moved out rather than step out of their front door onto the road, and other elderly residents were put at risk daily.

She said: “I know [reducing speed limits] is expensive but so is the loss of a life. We feel this is a very big violation and it is not going to get better. I do no think we are prepared to wait until someone is dead.”

A council officer’s report on the situation in the Hillhead area of Bonnyrigg found no statutory reasons for introducing restrictions, pointing out that neighbouring Lasswade, where a 20mph restriction was in place, had only seen speed reduce on its roads by 1mph since it was introduced and accidents had, in fact, increased.

A council officer told the committee: “We are not suggesting the increase in accidents is related to the change in speed limit, it is a coincidence, but rather that it has not achieved what was hoped in that location.”

One option officials had considered introducing – double yellow lines at a blind corner on the road – was withdrawn after residents warned it would increase the speed people took the corner on rather than decreasing it.

Committee member Councillor Stephen Curran sympathised with residents in Bonnyrigg and pointed to other communities where there were considerations to investing in ‘pop-up’ police – cardboard cut-outs of police constables which can be put at a roadside as a deterrent.

Committee convenor Councillor Colin Cassidy told members that he had encountered similar problems where he stayed with speeding drivers. He said: “I put a high-vis jacket on a tree and noticed that traffic slowed down. I left it there for a couple of hours and the difference was huge. ”

Mrs Gilbert said that the results of speed monitoring exercises carried out on the street, which recorded most people within the speed limit, were skewed.

She said: “The police have to wear high-vis jackets when they carry out operations and drivers immediately slow down when they see them. “The residents who live there can all tell the council that some motorists drive through this area at speeds of up to 60mph.

“It is not just speed, we have heavy HGV lorries which the roads were not designed for and the vibrations and noise are unacceptable.”

The committee agreed to put the petition on the agenda of February’s meeting of the council’s police, fire and rescue board, as well as putting it forward for consideration during the budget pre-consultation for the year ahead.

Councillor Curran also urged Mrs Gilbert to look at setting up a community group to allow them to bid for funds expected to be available for local projects in the coming year.

Following the meeting, Mrs Gilbert said: “They have agreed to take the petition on to the police board but we need action.

“Residents are tired of being palmed off, we must find a solution.”