40mph limit on the way at crash blackspot

A72 at Caerlee Corner, Innerleithen

A72 at Caerlee Corner, Innerleithen

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A 40mph speed limit is to be imposed at an accident blackspot near Innerleithen in the hope of helping avert further car crashes.

Scottish Borders Council’s Tweeddale area forum last unanimously agreed plans to impose a 40mph speed limit on the A72 at Caerlee Corner.

Caerlee Corner accident on December 18, 2015,  in which an 81-year-old man and 48-year-old woman were hurt.

Caerlee Corner accident on December 18, 2015, in which an 81-year-old man and 48-year-old woman were hurt.

That thumbs-up followed a report by the council’s roads chief officer, Gary Haldane, being presented to the meeting in Peebles last Wednesday.

Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell, a member of the A7 Action Group and long-time campaigner for a lower speed limit at Caerlee Corner, said afterwards: “I am really pleased that, after months of lobbying by both councillors and the community, we now have a 40mph extension put in place.

“There have been far too many accidents on that section of road.

“If drivers obey this new speed limit, that corner will be much safer.”

Tweeddale East councillor and member of A7 Action Group, Stuart Bell

Tweeddale East councillor and member of A7 Action Group, Stuart Bell

Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, the authority’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, added: “This is very welcome.

“Anything that can help highlight the dangers to drivers can only be a good thing.

“All we are doing is saying to drivers to go slower”.

The corner was previously assessed last year for a suggested 30mph speed limit extension but did not meet the relevant criteria, the meeting heard.

Campaigners have continued to fight for a lower speed limit, however, and in September, council chiefs and police officers did a U-turn and agreed to rethink their previous opposition.

Despite not meeting the criteria of the 2015 review, the road has been an accident blackspot over recent years, triggering calls for action to be taken.

In 2013, one accident consisted of a motorcyclist skidding off the road and another two involved car drivers crossing the centre white line and colliding with oncoming vehicles.

A further four accidents resulting in injury were reported in 2014, and in 2015 another two followed, with one involving an 81-year-old man.

The proposal was advertised to the public for consideration between October 27 and November 25 and sparked no objections.

The expected cost of lowering the speed limit from 60mph to 40mph is £1,500 for advertising and £1,000 for signs, according to the report.

However, it notes that if the plans do not go ahead drivers will continue to be at risk of road accidents due to driving at inappropriate speeds.

Area forum secretary Kathleen Mason said: “Because of the continuing accident record and the high degree of local concern, members welcomed the report and were pleased to approve the recommendations contained therein.”

How long it will take to bring in the lower speed limit at Caerlee Corner is not yet known, and the move could be subject to ratification by the Scottish Government.