Fears are growing of a potentially serious accident on the road into Scalloway unless steps are quickly taken to improve an inadequate pavement.
Concerns have been raised that the footpath leading up Mill Brae from the East Voe junction is too narrow for people to use safely – particularly when large juggernauts are passing by heading in or out of the village.
The path is commonly used by children heading to and from the school, and parents, who have been seeking improvements for years, say they are growing increasingly “frustrated” with the lack of progress.
The issue was brought into sharp focus when a car left the road by the East Voe junction and crashed through the barrier. Parents are counting on their luck that no children were in its path at the time of the incident.
Parents are also anxiously waiting for electronic 20mph signs, which were blown away in harsh conditions in January, to be replaced.
New units brought in during the summer months proved to be unreliable, and were subsequently removed. The upshot is the signs have only been in place for a matter of weeks throughout the whole of 2015.
Chairman of Scalloway parent council, Kenny Pottinger, said the problem was “an accident waiting to happen”.
“Down at the bottom it’s maybe slightly wider, but up by … anybody going with a pushchair would struggle, especially if they had a bairn alongside them.
“The school has spoken to the council about it, the parent council has spoken and the community council. Every month they’re speaking about it.
“They’re waiting on money, and that’s the issue.”
Asked if he thought someone could be seriously hurt, or worse, he said: “Definitely. It’s very frustrating. It’s been on the agenda for years, and it’s still there.
“The kerb would need to be replaced and the pavement made a safe width. There’s not enough room for two big vehicles to pass each other. If you get two artics coming then they have to slow down. Sometimes you see one stopping so the other one can win by.
“It’s the same with buses as well. So really the road needs to be widened, and the pavement widened.
“The community council has been telling them for years that it’s an accident waiting to happen.”
He added the 20 mph signs had blown away in the storms which gripped the isles over the new year period.
Replacements had arrived, in May or June, but had only worked for about five weeks. And so far no replacement units have been installed.
“To me, that’s my biggest issue,” said Mr Pottinger.
Councillor for the area, Mark Burgess, said steps were in place to have road improvements introduced.
He said funding from Sustrans – the body which aims to improve journeys for families, communities and policy makers – was being made available for a “fairly significant improvement”, which would include widening both the pavement and the road. Revenue funding is also likely to be used to make the changes.
“The council officers are working towards making that a reality,” he added.
“Scalloway Community Council and also the parent council have been highlighting this as a priority for several years.
“In the council prioritisation exercises for road improvements last year it was acknowledged as being something that would really need to be addressed. It has been, and it still is, a priority for both the community and the roads department.
“There’s a very strong likelihood this will come to fruition after a long and somewhat frustrating period.”
He said the accident which had caused the latest concerns took place before the gritters had been out in the morning. Overnight rain had washed a “pre-grit” from the night before, and temperatures had dropped.
“The conditions were exceptionally slippery at the time that it happened.”
Asked about the 20mph sign, he said: “The one going up Mill Brae was blown away by weather.
“It took some considerable time to get a replacement, which only operated for a short period of time.”
He said several of the units had failed and replacements were expected, but he said there was no set time for their reinstatement.