Councillors warned against conceding B9014 road barrier demand

MORAY COUNCILLORS WILL be warned this week that agreeing to public pressure over a road safety barrier could lead to them having to consider a total cost of £325,000.

A meeting of the Full Council this week will be asked to look again at providing a safety barrier along a stretch of the B9014 Dufftown to Keith road at Parkmore Brae.

Local residents have been calling for the measure with support from local MSP Richard Lochhead since trees were removed on a particularly severe bend. While the local authority have placed warning signs in the approach to the area, they insist that there is not enough evidence to suggest the need for the erection of barriers.

The issue has been forced into full debate by the Council by a petition signed by 657 and lodged with Moray Council, which warns: “The Community of Dufftown and District are extremely concerned about their safety when negotiating a severe bend situated on the B9014 at Parkmore Brae, and wish Moray Council to erect a safety barrier at this bend before a tragedy happens.”

The petition had originally been heard by a meeting of the economic development and infrastructure services committee in January, who called for a full background report to be placed before the Council on Wednesday.

In that, Councillors will be told that a risk assessment undertaken by engineers in the transportation team at Moray Council concluded: “Evaluating the risk using accident data is not appropriate as there have been no reported casualty collisions on this road in the last three years. Viewing this information in isolation would not lead to a recommendation to install a RRS [Road Restraint System].”

The report adds: “The question of the impact on the railway should a vehicle leave the carriageway has previously been raised. Officers have looked at the risk assessment methodology for road/rail interface, however this was written for mainline rather than preserved routes.

“Despite this, the conclusion reached following this methodology is that the risk is low and no further action is required to specifically mitigate the risk of a vehicle reaching the railway line.”

Councillors are being warned that if they are minded to overturn the recommendation it would have several implications: “If Council were minded to agree that a barrier should be erected, for legal and operational reasons, Officers would need to understand the basis of this decision.

“This could be based on a view that a different assessment process should have been applied, or a different result obtained – if so, this is normally viewed as a matter of professional judgement on which Officers’ advice is accepted and so the difference of opinion would have to be clearly articulated.

“Alternatively, it might be based on the public perception of risk, but public perception of risk alone cannot be used as a differentiating factor because it is subjective. This would mean that officers could not explain or legally defend why some RRS were provided and not others – and so officers would strongly advise against this.

“Lastly, it might be based on some other objective basis which makes this case exceptional and which would allow Officers to differentiate this case from others. Again, this would have to be clearly articulated to allow officers to apply a consistent policy across Moray.”

The report recommendation from Nicola Moss, the council’s Transportation Manager, accepts the clear community concerns but insists that “evidence does not support the need for a safety barrier”.

It concludes: “If a barrier were to be provided then there are other locations where barriers have been requested which could also be considered, at a total estimated cost of £325,000.”

The full report can be downloaded online via the Moray Council website.