Castletown resident's anger over speeding issue and noisy exhausts – 'irresponsible and ignorant' motorists blatantly ignore the law and give the finger
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A Castletown resident vented his anger over motorists who regularly flout the law as they pass his house on the outskirts of the village.
Colin Marshall and his wife Jo moved to their bungalow in early 2021 and found their rural peace shattered by 'irresponsible and ignorant' drivers who accelerate long before hitting the National Speed Limit sign sited close to their home.
"We live on the NC500 and cannot believe how irresponsible and ignorant motorists are with regards to keeping within the speed limits," said Mr Marshall.
"[It's] not just tourists but locals alike, lorries, coaches, cars, motorbikes – a great percentage of those who pass, blatantly ignore the speed limit. We have reported this to the police many times and indeed a few weeks ago I rang the police and was advised that it was not the police's role to stop motorists from speeding, it is the council's responsibility."
He was told that that police "do not have the resources but would act on evidence, registration numbers, times and dates" and felt very unsatisfied by the response. He then tried signalling drivers to slow down but the speeding motorists greeted him with "the usual fingers".
"Drivers see the National Speed Limit sign as a target and they need to be at least doing 60 or more before they get to the sign. Coming into the village, there are four warnings, that you are coming into a 30mph [zone] – plenty of warning you would think."
After the failed traffic calming episode, police visited the Marshall's home early one morning and Jo was told that there had been a complaint that someone had been trying to slow people down where they live and "pretending to use a speed camera". Mr Marshall denied holding any device but knew that the complaint must have been directed at him. He thought it was ridiculous that Police Scotland had "the resources to follow this up" but not to slow traffic down.
"Something needs to be done before there is an accident or even worse a fatality. Older residents, disabled people, animals, children all live on this road and live in fear."
He said that it was not just cars and motorbikes that speed past but larger vehicles too. "There's a lady down there that's disabled and she has problems crossing the road because of it."
He also said that it was not just the speeding issue that annoyed them but noise from modified exhaust systems which he believes cannot be legal. "I understand that this is not just a local issue but when is something going to be done?"
The Department for Transport has earmarked £300,000 to develop technology that will target noisy vehicles, with a trial being rolled out in England and Wales. However, there is currently no plan for the trial of these "noise cameras" to be widened to Scotland. Police in Scotland are expected to use their own judgement on such matters.
The couple contacted Highland Council, earlier this year, which arranged for a box to be installed for a week that measured traffic flow and speeds and were advised that this information would be passed on to the police. They have not had any feedback from that to date, however.
"It just seems that this has been going on for years but as no-one seems to do anything the locals who complain, stop complaining as it seems to be a waste of time."
When the various issues experienced by the couple were relayed to Highland Council its spokesperson said that “speeding enforcement is a matter for Police Scotland" and in reference to noisy exhausts it was a matter for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.
The spokesperson added: “The Highland Council has invested in improved pedestrian safety works with road narrowing on Main Street in Castletown which reduces the road to one lane to improve the pedestrian facilities in the area.
"This design prioritises the need for a safer place for pedestrians to cross the road, it has the added benefit of reducing vehicle speeds along Main Street. The buildouts on either side also make pedestrians more visible to approaching motorists. The traffic and pedestrian volumes were all monitored so the design could be progressed with the most appropriate solution for pedestrian safety.”
Mr Marshall think that the council's reply was inadequate and does nothing to calm traffic heading west out of Castletown. "Surely there should be something in place to at least remind people of their speed [such as] speed cameras, regular policing, or a local volunteer speed watch team in association with the police?"