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POLL: A9 campaigner spurred on by families

Mike Burns
Mike Burns

What began as a Sunday morning rant has turned one man into the figurehead of the campaign against average-speed cameras on the A9.

Mike Burns, of Foyers, became the spokesman for the opposition after starting a group on a social networking site in July last year, just days after the scheme was announced.

Within a few weeks, thousands of people had joined his campaign.

One year on, Mr Burns has gained more than 9,500 supporters and appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s petitions committee.

And with the cameras being installed in the run-up to the project’s official start in the autumn, he is unlikely to disappear from view any time soon.

Mr Burns admits that he was amazed by the way the campaign took off, and now people recognise him at the shops as the “speed camera guy”.

He said: “I thought when I started it, it would just be a small rant. I never expected this level of public support.

“I never expected to be down at parliament, I never expected to be on the television. I have relations who say if they don’t see me in the Press and Journal once a week, they think there’s something wrong.”

He added that he had few regrets, despite the impact the group has had on his life.

Mr Burns said: “I think what it did was open a pan-Scotland debate. It asked fundamental questions about how the Highlands has been treated and for that I’m really happy. I have lived in the Highlands most of my life and I am really proud of what the Highlands achieve.”

But he also points out that there is a wider group of people running the website and social networking side of the campaign.

“It is not a one man band,” he said.

The groundswell of support has prompted offers from political heavyweights for a link-up but Mr Burns said he was keen to prevent the issue becoming too political.

He said: “It was a difficult decision. It would have been easy to say ‘take it away from me’ but I thought that it wasn’t what people wanted from this.

“It was a bloke from a little village who shouted and it seems to have caught their attention.”

But he did decide to become a member of Danny Alexander’s Highland Infrastructure Forum, which met for the first time last month.

Mr Burns resigned as an SNP member last year, believing that the party was not listening to concerns about the average-speed cameras.

What now keeps him going is the messages of support from across the region, including those from families who have lost loved ones in crashes on the A9.

He said: “That’s what spurs me on.”

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