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Forres Community Council and partners aim to improve town centre for safer shopping

By Garry McCartney

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Forres Community Council are also to launch a campaign against shop staff parking on High Street all day.
Forres Community Council are also to launch a campaign against shop staff parking on High Street all day.

FORRES Community Council (FCC) is working on a plan to increase footfall and safety in the town centre.

Particular focus is being placed on improving traffic flow around the Kebabish and Kashmir takeaways, a possible 20mph speed limit on the High Street, improved and extended CCTV in the town, and ensuring action on extended illegal parking.

However, the community will have to wait for the current Elgin City Centre Regeneration Masterplan to be completed before focus can switch to the burgh, plus objections and red tape could delay developments for up for two years. In addition, any Scottish Government funding available would be subject to restrictions with priority given to benefitting pedestrians, people with disabilities and cyclists.

FCC Chairman Shaun Moat said: "We feel, particularly in the current climate, something should be done to improve the town centre. The next step will be to go in front of our elected members to give permission for the process to start. Then it has to go out to consultation. If there are any objections, these need to be dealt with, which could take anywhere between nine months and two years."

FACT lead development officer, Debbie Herron said regeneration and development of the town centre is also a key part of the agency's growth plan.

She added: "We hope to work with a wide range of businesses, social enterprises and public bodies. The pandemic has impacted on how this will be designed and delivered but we are looking forward to seeing how everyone will come together for the benefit of the area."

The FCC initiative picks up the pieces of several issues which have raised concerns in Forres over the last few years.

In 2019, then police inspector Keli McPhail indicated to Moray Council that she backed FCC's request for double yellow lines outside Kebabish and Kashmir takeaways at the west end of High Street. This was intended to make the corner safer as vehicles parking outside the eateries sometimes cause others to veer onto the opposite side of the road to pass.

Two years earlier, FCC invited then local authority traffic engineer, Ken Major, to discuss a potential 20mph speed limit in the town centre to increase safety. He agreed to have speed surveys carried out. However, no progress has been made.

Mr Moat said: "I have asked Diane Anderson from Moray Council's Transport department to find out why this didn't progress. She confirmed that a survey of traffic on the high street will be carried out and this may help with future applications for funding speed bumps or other additions to slow traffic."

At a more recent meeting between FCC, Moray Council, Forres Area Community Trust (FACT and police inspector Kelly Rigg, CCTV was raised following claims that some cameras no longer function.

"I was informed that they are all working," said Mr Moat. "I also raised the question with Chief Inspector Stevenson at our recent Joint Community Council meeting and he said that the CCTV across the whole of Moray needs looking into."

Insp Rigg confirmed she had discussed considerations for improvements that could be made alongside partner agencies.

She said: "CCTV - public space or private owned - can be a great tool in the prevention and detection of crime and a means to ensure the safety of the pedestrians/road users in the town centre.

"Any business owners, landlords or private tenants who have concerns regarding the security of their premises can seek advice from crime prevention officers. They are specially trained to carry out building security surveys and can provide other practical crime prevention advice."

Finally, at FCC's last meeting, it was mentioned that too many people leave their cars in the same parking spot on the high street all day, discouraging shopping stops for other drivers.

Mr Moat said: "We want to encourage business owners and staff to use the three free car parks in the centre of Forres. This will allow shoppers to use all of the town centre spaces, meaning everyone benefits."

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