Published: 02/04/2017 08:55 - Updated: 04/04/2017 21:46

Slower change wanted at lights

FOLLOWING near misses, renewed calls are being made to slow the traffic light sequence outside Forres Town Hall.

Forres Community Council vice chairman John Guthrie at the lights he claims change too quickly.
Forres Community Council vice chairman John Guthrie at the lights he claims change too quickly.

The issue was raised last May at Forres Community Council (FCC) by councillor John Guthrie who pointed out that the set gives very little warning to motorists when pressed by pedestrians crossing the high street.

He said: “The lights outside the town hall change too quickly and drivers have less time to react than at the other sets of lights.

“It’s dangerous, someone will get run over.”

FCC secretary Eleanor Hayward later asked Moray Council traffic engineer Elaine Penny to adjust them for approaching drivers, as well as people who take a bit longer to cross including pensioners, the disabled and mothers with young children.

Last month, two motorbikes with ‘L’ plates crashed after pulling up sharply when the lights changed suddenly. Both riders fell off and one lost control of his bike which freewheeled towards children queueing up for a film screening at the town hall, injuring one girl.

Moray councillor Lorna Creswell was present and has since asked the traffic department to investigate altering the lights.

Cllr Creswell said: “There could have been more serious injuries – the learners got a fright and it shocked the families awaiting entry.

“I will check if the traffic lights are operating at a speed to suit drivers of all vehicles and pedestrians.”

Minutes after the crash, another witness said an Asda delivery van had to slam on its breaks at the crossing when another child pressed the button.

The Gazette reported an incident at the same spot in October 2014, when an Anderson’s pupil walking to school narrowly missed being run over by a 4x4 vehicle that jumped the red light, slamming the brakes on just in time.

More recently, Ms Hayward investigated the lights for herself one Saturday morning, noticing elderly people crossing, one of whom had a Zimmerframe.

She said: “Naturally, they were quite slow and the lights changed to amber while they were still on the road. 

“We have to give consideration to the less able bodied and visually impaired in the community. Hopefully Moray Council can have this lights issue remedied.”

Cllr Hayward previously made a request for alteration to the lights to Moray Council traffic engineer Elaine Penny, who acknowledged the problem and promised an update. 

Ms Penny said: “I am a little loathe to increase the green man time much further as it can encourage drivers to drive through a red light if someone crosses quickly.

“However, I will investigate changing the type of crossing and secure budget to upgrade it to a more responsive style.”

The Gazette asked FCC and Moray Council for an update following the most recent near miss.

FCC vice chairman John Guthrie said: “I understood that Moray Council were looking at them but nothing has changed.”

A council spokesman said: “Our transportation people tell me the lights are working perfectly well. It is not possible to adjust the timings on the existing system. To do so would involve installing new lights which would cost several thousand pounds for which there is no budgetary allocation.”

Ms Hayward responded: “The council’s financial circumstances have changed and we have been told by a councillor at our meetings that 2018 will be a severely difficult time. However, it is a crossing of concern and the lights were no longer fit for purpose when Ms Penny looked to investigate and upgrade. I will raise the matter again at FCC’s next meeting.”

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