When will Highland Council get around to painting lines at Watten's accident blackspot?
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The issue of road markings being repainted at an accident blackspot was highlighted at a meeting of Watten Community Council (WCC).
WCC members talked of four vehicle collisions and numerous "near misses" that have occurred at the junction of the A882 road and B870 in the village in the last 10 months.
Though the road was resurfaced by Highland Council in September last year the local authority has not yet had road markings painted at the junction. The WCC members believe that the lack of lines may be contributing to the problem and that drivers unfamiliar with the area may experience some confusion on approaching the junction. A motorbike was recently observed speeding through the junction without stopping, it was said.
The John O'Groat Journal asked Highland Council when the road markings would be repainted at the site but a response was slow in coming due to local staff being "out and about a lot" and not available to respond to the query.
The council spokesman eventually made a statement which reads: “Our local roads team are currently busy carrying out essential surface dressing works but the junction markings are a priority and work will be carried out as soon as the men and plant are available.”
Newly elected councillor for Wick and East Caithness Andrew Jarvie said: "There is absolutely no excuse for this. There is no reason for line painting to be left this long. I have been told that the line painting equipment is currently unavailable – that isn't any excuse. This council needs to stop underfunding our roads team and give them the equipment they need to do their jobs."
The councillor added that the incident highlights the fact that a legal precedent exists in which "another council was found liable for a collision due to lack of junction markings".
Wick and East Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner said he had spoken to road officers this week about white lining. He said: "The equipment for marking the white lines will be available locally soon and the intention is to attend to junctions, disabled bays and similar small works at the beginning of July."
Cllr Bremner added: "I believe also, that the council is arranging to have the centre lines marked by a contractor and that arrangements are being looked at to have that undertaken given the number of repaired road surfaces that still require that. I’m not aware that any of the accidents that have happened at the Watten/Mybster crossroads have related to the lack of white lines given the clear “STOP” signs at the junctions but I’m happy to raise this with the local police and have that clarified for them. In any case, the council will be attending to the white lines in that area in the immediate future."