News / Bad town driving

The SIC is to consult on plans to cut the speed limit in Lerwick town centre to 20mph. Photo: Shetnews

A LERWICK councillor has hit out at young male drivers who congregate in the centre of town to “use their cars as a form of mating display” and drive far too fast on surrounding roads.

Jonathan Wills made his remarks as Shetland Islands Council agreed to consult on whether to turn Lerwick’s Esplanade into a 20mph zone and introduce other traffic calming measures.

He referred to eyewitness accounts of cars driving in excess of 50mph up and down Church Road and said it had become a “festering sore” for residents, shopkeepers and tourists.

Wills, who is often in the area as he runs boat tours from the harbour, said: “It’s a notorious fact that there is excessive speed and extremely bad driving daily in this town, and it’s young local men who are doing it and clearly don’t understand that, if you read the Highway Code, you should drive with due care and attention.”


A report from council roads engineer Colin Gear in January proposed consulting on creating a 20mph zone in response to a “statistically significant” rate of around two accidents a year in and around the Esplanade.

Councillors had deferred approving a consultation so they could get advice about their legal obligations to prevent accidents.

Gair’s report to Tuesday’s environment and transport committee set out how, while there are no statutory penalties, the local authority could find it more difficult to defend itself against claims resulting from accidents if it had failed to act.

A consultation will now take place over the summer on plans to reduce the 30mph speed limit to 20mph from the top of Church Road in the south part of town to the roundabout at North Ness.

If the measures to slow traffic down eventually go ahead, their introduction is likely to cost in the region of £100,000 to £150,000.

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Some councillors appeared surprised by Wills’ claim that people were driving at speeds of 50-60mph in the town, but Gair said that estimate was “not unreasonable”.

The report found that 15 per cent of drivers in the area were driving too fast for the conditions, while five per cent were breaking the law.

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