30th September 2016
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

SIC’s diversion was a road to nowhere

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A woman who is an unpaid carer for her autistic son has accused the council of having no regard for the community there after road works left them “trapped”.

Carla Strachan, of Vatsetter in Yell, found herself in an awkward situation on Monday when a diversion sign pointed her towards a second road closure.

She found that anyone wishing to turn left at the Vatsetter junction, in order to head south down the Aywick road, was unable to do so owing to a road closure as advertised in The Shetland Times last week.

The notice in last week’s paper advised those Vatsetter residents affected by the closure to head north along the Aywick road, which would eventually allow them to join the Mid Yell road.

However, she found that this route was also closed owing to further road works, seemingly announced only by means of a sign.

Mrs Strachan, who cares for her autistic son Ethan, was allowed to leave the Vatsetter junction using the advertised diversion in order to attend a doctor’s appointment on Monday morning.

But when she returned she was waved away by road workers, who had dug up the road in order to replace and reinforce underground pipes, meaning she had no access to her home.

She said: “They waved at me to go back but they were fully aware of who I was and where I lived and must have known that I would be unable to get access from the other end.”

After complaining she was told to wait while the workers cleared the road in order to allow her access to the Vatsetter junction. She was told that the road workers would put down steel plates which would allow her to drive over the road, which she described as having “a great big hole” in it.

According to Mrs Strachan she eventually had to drive over the bumpy road in order to gain access to her home, hoping “it wouldn’t cause any damage to the car.”

Neil Hutchison, of the council’s road department, downplayed the situation, calling it “a bit of a misunderstanding”.

He said access was to be permitted to and from the Vatsetter junction, and said that the worker who had waved Mrs Strachan away “had just arrived on site and wasn’t quite up to speed on the arrangements.”

He added: “By trying to do her a favour he has unfortunately ended up upsetting her.”

Mr Hutchison’s feelings that the situation was a misunderstanding were echoed by Brian Wood, road maintenance team leader for the North Isles.

He said: “maybe our signs could have been a bit clearer. It all comes down to miscommunication really.”

“Maybe our signs could have been a bit clearer. It all comes down to miscommunication really.” – NEIL HUTCHISON

These words are unlikely to calm Mrs Strachan, who feels that the road works were in direct contradiction to a promise she had from the council when she phoned last week with regards to her son Ethan’s travel arrangements to school.

As Ethan suffers from autism he has an ASN contract which means he is picked up every morning by a taxi and driven to school. She raised concerns about this with the council and was told that access would be permitted for the taxi which picks her son up.

She was pleased to get this promise because for “anyone on the autistic spectrum, any change in schedule can affect them in a big way”.

But she was disappointed to later find the taxi would have to obey the diversion between the North Aywick junction and the Vatsetter junction. Her son was able to get to school because, at the time, the diversion which would eventually point towards a closed road was still in active use.

Only later in the day did the second road closure, which left the Vatsetter residents trapped in their side road, come into force.

She added that the Vatsetter road is already one which receives little attention, rarely being gritted in the winter months.

She said: “Side roads in Yell are the victim of a complete disregard from the council … They don’t think about the effects that their decisions will have on people’s lives.”

AboutKeegan Murray

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