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Road safety campaigners renew pleas to reduce speed on A836 Forss stretch

Campaigners are calling for action to improve safety on the stretch
Campaigners are calling for action to improve safety on the stretch

A campaign group has been launched to improve safety at Caithness accident blackspot.

Locals want action to be taken on the A836 John O’Groats to Thurso road at Forss to tackle speeding and risky overtaking.

One resident, Julie Minchin, said she is “petrified” every time she pulls out of her driveway because of the speed of passing traffic.

Mrs Minchin lives in the middle of the long straight which runs through her village.

The 49-year-old said: “I am petrified every time I pull into or out of my driveway due to the high speed of traffic on that road and all the overtaking that goes on right outside my house.

“I cannot stress how scared I feel every day, with my son Robbie having to walk up a grassy, wet slippery ditch from the council houses to our bungalow, because I dare not let him cross that dangerous road.”

Mrs Minchin, of Fairview, Roadside, runs a childminding business and claims the A836 is so dangerous she can’t take her charges for a walk in the local woods.

‘The police are fighting a losing battle’

The stretch has been the scene of several accidents recently.

In October, 69-year-old Ian Calder, from Thurso, died when his Vespa scooter collided with a van towing a trailer. 

Mrs Minchin previously raised a petition to get the 60mph road reduced, even to 50mph. However it was unsuccessful.

Forss resident John Ross has also been prominent in the local campaign added: “The police know of the concerns and, to be fair, do a good job but as soon as a patrol car is seen, people are texting their mates and it’s all over Facebook that there’s a police car on the Forss straight.

“The police are fighting a losing battle, I’m afraid.”

“I don’t understand why we can’t have a lower limit as has been brought in other local villages like Lyth, Gillock and Strathy.

The new group is also made up of councillors Matthew Reiss and Struan Mackie; Thurso Community councillors Ron Gunn and Thelma Mackenzie; Caithness West Community Councillor David Craig; and Caithness Roads Recovery co-founder Iain Gregory.

Calls for authorities to act now

Mrs Mackenzie said: “It is now evident that this stretch of the A836 requires immediate speed restrictions for the safety of all.

“With increasing traffic, both locally and with visitors to the NC 500, the safety and well-being of the local residents living beside this part of the A836 must be paramount. It is now time for the authorities to act.”

Mr Reiss has been campaigning for eight years to secure safety improvements on the stretch.

He said: “Police cannot be present all the time so we hope some simple improvements will now be possible, such as double white lines or a lower speed limit.”

As well as a speed cut, the group is calling for double-white lines, chevron boards at the bends, upgraded junction visibility and improved pavements, culverts, drainage, road surfacing and signage.

The new group is directing its plea to Highland Council, Transport Scotland and the Safety Camera Partnership as well seeking support from police, senior management at Dounreay and Vulcan and far north MSP Maree Todd.

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