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Police to keep close eye on roads up north

Concerns have been raised again about the speed limit in Urafirth and Hillswick.

POLICE are set to increase their presence in Northmavine to target speeding drivers after concerns were raised in the community over road safety in Urafirth and Hillswick.

A letter sent to the Northmaven Community Council repeated long-held worries that the 60mph speed limit at the council houses located at the bottom of the Clave at Valladale in Urafirth is dangerous.

There is also a playpark near to the main road there, as well as a bus stop.

“This must be one of the few housing schemes in Shetland where garden gates open almost directly on to a highway with a 60mph speed limit,” Ivor Tulloch wrote in his letter.

The letter also suggested the speed limit could also be lowered on the rest of the A970 which runs deep into Hillswick.

Urafirth Primary School. Photo: Richard Webb (licenced for reuse under creative commons)
The A970 travels past the Urafirth Primary School, and while the speed drops to 20mph at peak school times, the limit is 60mph the rest of the day. Photo: Richard Webb (licenced for reuse under creative commons)

Tulloch said it is a “single track road with no footpaths, no hard shoulder and poor verges if they can be called that. People walk frequently, cycle, and are often seen out pushing prams on this section of road.”

“I see no valid reason why vehicles have to exceed 30mph on this stretch of road,” he added.

Concerns about the speed limit at Urafirth has been previously raised in the community but Shetland Islands Council, which has authority over the matter, has not deemed it necessary to lower it.

Police constable Peter Gracie told a meeting of Northamaven Community Council earlier this month that the police would undertake more speed checks in the area as a result of the fresh concerns.

Community councillors agreed to continue to lobby the council over reducing the speed limit at the council houses at Valladale, as well as next to Urafirth Primary School – which drops from 60mph to 20mph at peak times – and the A970 heading into Hillswick.

The council’s roads manager Dave Coupe said the local authority is looking into redeploying a ‘smiley face’ speed warning sign in the area.

“We will be happy to revisit the issue around speed limits following the results of the police’s enforcement campaign if a benefit is demonstrated,” he said.

Chief inspector Lindsay Tulloch, meanwhile, said local communities in Shetland regularly raise road safety issues.

He added that the police are “committed to proactive policing” aimed at improving safety.

“Our aim is to challenge drivers and improve behaviour on the roads through education and maintaining a visible presence on the roads,” Tulloch added.

“We will continue to take enforcement action against anyone breaking the rules of the road – whether that is speeding, drink driving, using a mobile phone or any other offence.

“We work closely with our communities and would encourage anyone with local concerns to raise them, whether that is by making direct contact with Police Scotland or through your local community council or councillor.

“It is also important to note that the rate of serious injuries and fatalities on the roads of Shetland remain low.

“Road safety is a priority for Police Scotland nationally and I am confident that the work we are doing locally in Shetland is influencing road user behaviour for the better and making our roads safer.”