Galashiels safety campaigners get the hump about only getting one speed hump

Elspeth Johnston presenting the langlee Drive residents' petition to Borders MP John Lamont last year.
Elspeth Johnston presenting the langlee Drive residents' petition to Borders MP John Lamont last year.

Campaigners in Galashiels have got the hump about only getting one hump.

Scottish Borders Council chiefs have rejected a plea to install multiple speed bumps along a busy school route.

Residents of the town’s Langlee Drive claim action is needed to curb speeding along the road to safeguard children going to and from Langlee Primary School.

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s audit and scrutiny committee last Thursday, they presented a petition to councillors signed by more than 300 people.

Petition organiser Elspeth Johnston told the committee: “This is the main road road to a primary school with over 260 children.

“My concerns are heightened due to the fact my two grandchildren use this road daily as they reside above me.

“Myself and four other people who live in this street are disabled and have difficulty walking. We are frequently intimidated by the speed of some cars as they try to get to and from the school.

“The police have admitted there is a problem with speeding on Langlee Drive and have tried putting up cardboard cutouts along the road, but these have not worked.

“There are also ‘twenty’s plenty’ signs at the start of the road, but these cannot be enforced and are constantly ignored.

“What we propose is for a speed bump to be put in place to prevent accidents, fatal or otherwise.

“We want to impress upon you that a price cannot be placed upon a life.”

According to council officers, speeds recorded on Langlee Drive are relatively low, though.

Philippa Gilhooly, the council’s road safety technician, presented a study revealing that over a seven-day period, the average speed along the northern section of Langlee Drive was 18.5mph, below the advisory 20mph speed limit.

A second survey directly outside Langlee Primary, next to an existing flat-top speed bump, found the average speed was 12.5mph over a seven-day period, and over the same time period, just 0.2% of vehicles travelling on that section of the road were found to be speeding.

However, one motorist was clocked at between 40 and 45mph, and more than a fifth of drivers exceeded 20mph on Langlee Drive during the 8am-9am rush hour.

Ms Gilhooly told the committee that several anti-speeding measures are in place along the road already and the council is considering imposing a mandatory 20mph speed limit, adding: “We would absolutely welcome this speed data at any of our other school sites.

“I would like to put another flat-top speed bump close to where the school’s new access is, between Melrose Road and Langlee Drive.

“We’ve had zero reported accidents since records began in 2003.

“I’ve also spoken to the police, and they have not told us they have concerns about speeding in Langlee Drive.”

Ms Gilhooly also confirmed that officers are awaiting the outcome of the Scottish Government’s proposed bill to reduce the default speed limit on restricted roads to 20mph, due to be voted on later this year.

Following the debate, councillors agreed to put forward four recommendations to Martin Joyce, the council’s service director for assets and infrastructure – to communicate better with community groups raising concerns, to offer to meet campaigners to discuss the best location for another flat-top speed bump, to investigate a 20mph mandatory speed limit and to ask the region’s police community action team to consider enforcement action.

After the meeting, Langlee Drive resident Albert Cruickshank said: “The communication on this issue has been absolutely terrible.

“I just don’t feel like they were taking seriously the actual speedy bit, which is the first 250 yards as you come into Langlee Drive on the main school route.

“Yes, they said they’d put in a speed bump nearer to the school, which would be good, but the only proven way to stop speeding is to put speed bumps all along the road.

“Other schools in Gala have got them – right across the Borders, schools have got them – so why can’t Langlee schoolchildren get the same safety?

“I’ve been asking this for over four years now.

“The council even told me they’d stop writing back to me if I didn’t stop contacting them.

“I’m disappointed in the reaction of the council. I’ve never heard anybody say that because there’s not been an accident we don’t need to take action.

“That is a terrible thing to say. Safety is about prevention, not taking action after the event.”