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Castletown mum in call for zebra crossing on NC500 road through village

By Gordon Calder

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Emma Manson, Karl Rosie and Donna Kirk with son Kane and daughter Breagh at the site of their proposed crossing in Castletown.
Emma Manson, Karl Rosie and Donna Kirk with son Kane and daughter Breagh at the site of their proposed crossing in Castletown.

A Castletown mother is calling for a new road crossing to help children safely access a busy play park in the village.

Donna Kirk fears that, with the main road getting busier partly due to the popularity of the North Coast 500, the situation is an accident waiting to happen.

The mother-of-two wants Highland Council to act now to install a zebra crossing, and help to keep people of all ages safe when crossing the main road through the village.

Mrs Kirk (33), who lives in Murrayfield with husband Bruce and two children, eight-year-old Breagha and one-year-old Kane, is campaigning for the council to put the crossing on Main Street beside the park.

She explained that the play park, which was extensively refurbished several years ago, is well used by youngsters.

She says such a measure would make the road safer for children, the elderly and people with mobility issues. She hopes the crossing could be installed by the end of the summer and vowed to keep the campaign going until something is done.

Her campaign and petition has already been backed by local people, community groups and businesses in the village and she is delighted with the response so far.

"We have over 600 signatures and I am absolutely over the moon," she said.

Mrs Kirk says she knows of two near-misses involving young children and fears that if nothing is done an accident or worse could be the result.

"It has always been a busy road and is getting busier with the popularity of the North Coast 500 route which goes through the village," she said.

"Prevention is better than cure. Why wait for an accident to happen to raise awareness of how busy that road can be?"

Her daughter Breagha is the inspiration behind the campaign.

"She has come to the age now to go out and play with her friends and, like most of the local bairns, the play park is where they all head to," said Mrs Kirk.

"I want to keep her and her friends safe. One day in a good few years to come, my son Kane will be old enough to go and meet up with his friends, too.

"I started the campaign and petition in the hope that Highland Council will install a crossing close to the play park to help make it safer and easier for everyone to cross – not just children, but the elderly, people with mobility issues and anyone else that has to cross the road.

"It would also help the keep children safer when heading to and from school. The Main Street runs through the heart of the village and is a very busy road at the best of times, but over the last few years the NC500 has become more and more popular, which is great for local businesses but it heightens my concerns for people trying to cross the road.

"The play park is right beside the road and, when travelling into the village from the west side, it is hidden by buildings. It is only at the very last minute you see it. It is a very busy park used greatly by locals, visitors from around Caithness and tourists when they are here.

"The NC500 made our village extremely busy last year and this year is shaping up to be the same with travel restrictions for holidays abroad,"she added.

Mrs Kirk said many parents in the village support the idea of a crossing on the Main Street and praised all those who have helped her campaign, including her mother Isobel Sutherland, friend Emma Manson and Jordan Hune, who designed the campaign poster.

She has spoken to local Highland councillors Matthew Reiss, Karl Rosie and Willie Mackay who back the idea along with Castletown Primary School, Castletown and District Community Council and Castletown Youth Club.

"A number of local businesses have also supported the plan," she added.

Highland Council has been approached for comment.

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