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Calls for urgent repairs to damaged safety barriers near Thurso primary school


By Alan Hendry

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The twisted set of safety barriers alongside the A836 Thurso/Castletown road, photographed this week. Picture: Caithness Roads Recovery
The twisted set of safety barriers alongside the A836 Thurso/Castletown road, photographed this week. Picture: Caithness Roads Recovery

Calls are being made for urgent repairs to a mangled set of safety barriers alongside a busy road close to a primary school in Thurso.

The section of fencing on the A836 Thurso/Castletown road has been battered out of shape by traffic incidents and at least one of the retaining bolts has been snapped off.

One campaigner pointed out that the damage has resulted in sharp edges protruding at a child's head height.

Local residents are said to be concerned about delays in carrying out repairs to the barriers, which are at the junction with Mount Pleasant Road and near a crossing used by children going to and from Mount Pleasant Primary School.

It is understood there have been a number of incidents over the years in which vehicles have struck the fencing.

Iain Gregory, co-founder of Caithness Roads Recovery, said: "This matter was brought to our attention by local people, and we have posted several reports about it on our Facebook page.

"I have visited the location and found that the damage is so severe there are sharp edges right at a child's head height. There are broken and twisted parts, and at least one ground fixing is actually sheared right off.

"Much of the fencing is loose and shakes if one places a hand on it. The level of protection to children is greatly reduced and urgent attention is needed.

"We have twice reported this to the council and we understand that Councillor Matthew Reiss has also passed it directly to Inverness. We are aware of the lack of personnel, but this is an absolute priority and Highland Council must act immediately."

Thurso Community Council chairman Ron Gunn insisted that health and safety must be treated as a priority by Highland Council.

The damaged section of fencing near a crossing that is used by Mount Pleasant Primary School pupils. Picture: Caithness Roads Recovery
The damaged section of fencing near a crossing that is used by Mount Pleasant Primary School pupils. Picture: Caithness Roads Recovery

"These safety barriers need to be fixed," Mr Gunn said. "The clue is in the name – 'safety'.

"These are the only physical structures between the pedestrians and the vehicles at a busy junction and, even more importantly, protect the children on their way to and from school."

Mr Gunn said the community council would be seeking an update from the local authority.

Councillor Reiss, who represents Thurso and Northwest Caithness on Highland Council, agreed it was a "significant safety concern" but warned of the workload facing local authority staff.

“I've inspected the barrier myself and it is very loose. At least one of the retaining bolts that hold the safety fencing into the ground is completely snapped off," Councillor Reiss said.

“I've reported it several times over the last two weeks and it is a significant safety concern. The reality is there are hundreds of other significant safety concerns in terms of potholes, etc., across the county. We do not have enough staff or money.

“Councillors tend to leave it to the professional roads engineers to decide what order repairs are carried out in, and this is an almost impossible job at the moment.

“I am acutely conscious of the unrelenting workload being placed on council staff and that is partly why last week I publicised what seems to be a glaring discrepancy between funding in different parts of Scotland.

“The parent council at Mount Pleasant has also been in touch with me and I have again passed their concerns on to senior officers.”

At least one ground fixing has been sheared off. Picture: Caithness Roads Recovery
At least one ground fixing has been sheared off. Picture: Caithness Roads Recovery

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