25th May 2018
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Verges are death traps, council told

, by , in News, Public Affairs

By JOHN ROBERTSON

THE COUNCIL has been warned somebody will be killed on the roads because of blind spots caused by grass on verges.

The alarm was sounded by Shetland South councillor Rick Nickerson on Tuesday at a meeting of the infrastructure committee when he voiced what he said was real concern in the community following an accident near Scousburgh last month.

He said the grass at the Ness was a metre high because of the good summer and needed cut. As he spoke, a tractor was felling the verges in the parish, as witnessed by fellow member Allison Duncan.

Head of roads Ian Halcrow urged people to bring any verges of concern to his department’s attention. He said they were all cut once a year in August or September and another cut was done earlier for junctions and areas used regularly by pedestrians.

Dunrossness Community Coun­cil had previously advised the SIC about which verges needed attending to more often, he said, and most of them had been done earlier. If a mid-summer cut was needed too, that should be possible.

He said one reason why cutting was not done earlier in the summer was to preserve the wild roadside displays because they are a much-loved feature of driving in the countryside.

Although that should have settled the matter, councillors relished the opportunity afforded by a lightweight meeting agenda to indulge themselves on the subject.

Josie Simpson wanted hard verges, which would cure the problem, but chairman Allan Wishart said that would be too costly, although he agreed a report should be drawn up. Iris Hawkins and Betty Fullerton said hard verges should be provided where people often walk.

Jim Budge suggested getting contractors to cut the verges if the council did not have enough machinery to get them all done. Laura Baisley called for a pilot project to give money to community councils so they could get someone with a strimmer to do the cutting. But Mr Halcrow said there could be health and safety problems due to the dangers of working at the roadside.

Jonathan Wills tried diverting attention to the town, calling for a 20mph zone along its corridor of death between the Big Kirk and Home Furnishing where he said “male drivers use their cars as accessories in their mating display”. But Allison Duncan said if there was a problem Dr Wills should report it to the police. Mr Wishart replied: “I don’t think there is an offence called mating displays.”

Jim Henry also focused on the town, saying the main visibility problem was due to people’s overgrown hedges.

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